The state of Kansas is currently facing fiscal challenges that threaten services for our communities and our children. The latest revenue estimates indicate that the state will face a deficit of nearly $280 million for fiscal year ending June 30, 2015 even after using our reserves of $380 million. The projections for 2016 are dire as well, the Kansas Legislative Research Department estimating an additional shortage of $ 435 million dollars. Kansas faces a projected shortage of over $1 billion dollars in just eighteen short months.
I recommend following former State Budget Director, Duane Goossen’s blog to stay up to date on the budget crisis.
Education funding in Kansas was slashed and although other states have reinvested in their public schools, Kansas has failed to do so. According to the Kansas Association of School Boards our school districts’ general operating budgets as a percentage of Kansas personal income is at a 40 year low.
Last session the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that our current funding system was inequitable; the legislature responded and brought school funding into compliance. However, the adequacy portion of the school finance suit has not been settled. The court is expected to rule on adequacy before the 2015 legislative session begins.
With the looming budget shortfall the state faces, education funding could be on the chopping block once again.
The state refused the expansion of Medicaid and has left $300 million on the table as of the end of 2014. Kansas has an opportunity to cover nearly 150,000 more Kansans through the expansion of Medicaid and the federal government will cover the entire cost through January 2017. After 2017 the state would gradually become responsible for 10% of the costs.
The failure to expand is also hindering our economic recovery in Kansas. Nearly 3,000 jobs would be created in 2016 with the expansion of Medicaid.
I will work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to expand Medicaid in Kansas.