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Historic budget struggle begins

In his first and final State of the State address Monday night, Gov. Mark Parkinson called for two tax increases and no further “crippling cuts to our critical state programs,” including K-12 schools and state universities. GOP legislative leaders say it’s a tax hike that "would in the long run cripple Kansas businesses and in turn undermine the long term fiscal health of our state government," as House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, put it in his response to Parkinson’s speech. Either way, a $400 million budget gap has to be closed for fiscal 2011. And so begins what promises to be a historic budget struggle between the GOP-led Legislature and a lame-duck Democratic governor who used to chair the Kansas Republican Party.