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Governor cuts K-12, higher ed and more to fill $160 million shortfall

TOPEKA - The governor on Thursday used $90 million in cuts to the state budget and various accounting maneuvers to fill a $160 million shortfall.

The move comes the day after fiscal year 2010 began and includes a 2 percent reduction to general state aid for kindergarten through 12th grade. Higher education also saw another 2 percent, or $15 million taken from its budget.

“There is no way to spin this that this is not going to create pain for them,” said Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat.

The state budget has already been cut three times since January, and this time departments who had watched their money disappear previously - such as the Department of Corrections - were left untouched.

While Parkinson’s moves eliminated a further $90.6 million, he leaned on more money coming from the federal government, delayed projects and other money sources to add $69.3 million back into the budget. The proposal does not include any tax increases or delay anticipated tax decreases.

Included in that portion of the proposal is:

* $30 million in delayed road maintenance programs from the Department of Transportation

* $2.8 million taken from the Health Care Stabilization Fund,

* $4.15 million no longer needed to make Cessna bond payments.

The governor said he hoped the cuts would be enough to keep the budget in the black.

On Monday, Parkinson also said he plans to ask the State Finance Council to allow the state to borrow $700 million from its self to cover payments due in July.

Other cuts to the budget include:

* 2 percent, or $641,512, reduction to Department of Health & Environment

* 2 percent, or $132,477, cut to the School for the Blind

* 2 percent, or $196,395, cut to the School for the Deaf

* Eliminating $50,000 in grants for the Arts C omission.

Parkinson also gave his office, the lieutenant governor’s office and the Attorney General’s office 2 percent cuts totaling almost $250,000. He also asked Legislative Agencies, which include research, post audit and the Legislature to cut $540,000.

For more, read Friday’s Wichita Eagle.