Two recent news stories are examples of why it will be difficult to cover the state’s budget shortfall through spending cuts alone – especially if K-12 education funding is spared. Job vacancy rates in the state prison system currently range from 10 to 15 percent at each facility and are mostly due to low wages and dangerous working conditions. The state needs to increase the pay, not cut prison funding. Also, Osawatomie State Hospital is in danger of losing its Medicare reimbursements because of overcrowding. Mental health advocates say that the best way to prevent such problems is for the Legislature to fund Gov. Sam Brownback’s mental health reform plan. That likely would require more funding, not less. – Phillip Brownlee
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