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State Senators Vratil and Kelly propose creating a "rainy day fund"

TOPEKA – Two state Senators have proposed amending the state constitution to require that lawmakers set aside money when Kansas is flush with cash.

Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, and Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would automatically set aside up to 1 percent of state revenues in years when the state’s funds increase by more than 3 percent.

“It’s smart personal finance to set aside money for times when revenue is short,” said Vratil, who is vice-chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The amendment would require the state to collect up to 7.5 percent of the total state general revenue, which currently would equal about $465 million, Kelly said.

Over the past year, lawmakers and the governor have had to cut about $1 billion from the current budget, which began July 1.

That was after the state had depleted about $1 billion in cash reserves the Kansas had built up over several years.

A rainy day fund would have helped lessen some of the more recent cuts, the senators said.

Lawmakers would be able to tap into the fund only when state collected less money than it had the year prior.

To amend the state constitution, the resolution would have to pass by a two-thirds majority in both chambers – 84 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate. The measure would then go on the Nov. 2010 general election ballot for Kansas voters to weigh in on.

For more, read Wednesday’s Wichita Eagle.