State budget director: 2010 to be even harder

TOPEKA — State budget meetings aren't the place to go lately for good news.

At a Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, agency heads told senators what they expect to see given cuts to the current budget:

* The state's unemployment insurance fund could run out of money in January.

* The state corrections department will oversee fewer parolees.

* The state's infrastructure is likely to deteriorate.

Next year's budget, which lawmakers will develop after they return to Topeka in January, will be even more difficult, State Budget Director Duane Goossen said.

The Legislative Research Department projects lawmakers will need to cut another $358.7 million to balance the 2011 budget.

"It's not a good picture. We all know it's not a good picture," said committee Chairman Sen. Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg.

Most of the information isn't new. The House Appropriations Committee has met several times during the interim to wrangle with the state's deteriorating budget picture. Tuesday was the Senate budget committee's first meeting.

Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, said he was surprised by the budget outlook.

He pointed to Secretary of Corrections Roger Werholtz's statement that the department is scaling back its monitoring of parolees.

"That's beyond fat. That gets into public safety," he said.

Masterson said he expects cuts to education, which takes up more than half of Kansas' spending, will have to be on the table now more than ever.

After the meeting, Emler said he thought tax increases would be discussed during the session but were unlikely to pass.