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The budget for FY 2014 and FY 2015 discussed
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Dear Editor,
The Governor is proposing a two-year budget, covering Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. Fiscal Year 2014 starts on July 1, 2013, and runs through June 30, 2014. The process is that both the House and Senate start with the Governors recommended budget and make changes up or down from that.
K12 education remains level for the 2013-2014 school year and goes up $14 per student the following year. Funding for colleges and universities remains the same for both years. K12 schools may be in a bind because most have maxed out their local option budgets.
No across the board  raises for state employees in either year.
No increase in funding to expand Medicaid services under Obamacare. Care for 130,000 poor Kansans hangs in the balance.
The Governor is cutting funding for public television. He recommends a cut from $1 million this year to $600,000 in FY 2014. Metropolitan areas may be able to stand these kinds of cuts, but rural areas will be hard-pressed to keep their public stations.
The Governor recommends that we take money from KDOT to pay for a number of things in the budget: $54 million each year for the Kansas Highway Patrol. $107 million each year to pay for K12 transportation. $17 million each year for other services. Secretary King says that low interest rates will allow this transfer and keep the T-Works program on track.
The Governor recommends a $200,000 cut in Veterans services and cemeteries and a cut of over $1 million to the Commission on Veterans Affairs over the next two years.
Spending on Developmental and Physical Disability Waivers remains flat.
The Governor recommends that we use $40 million in profits from gaming operations to fund our current KPERS payments. That money was supposed to go to pay down the KPERS shortfall so I’m not sure how that impacts our plan to eliminate the deficit.
The Governor shifts nearly $12 million from early childhood grants to a new reading program. I’m concerned about this, as it means more kids will reach kindergarten not ready to learn.
The tax plan  paying for the budget
The tax plan passed in 2012 creates a budget shortfall. There is no tax bill yet to show how the Governor plans to cover the budget shortfall, but heres what we know so far about his tax plans:
Governor Brownback is asking for tax increases in the near term and tax cuts in outer years.
In the 2013 tax year he eliminated the tax credit for child care, the rebate for food sales tax and the homestead property tax refund for renters.
The Governor now recommends the sales tax increase that expires on July 1, 2013, be continued ($260 million tax increase); the home mortgage interest deduction be eliminated ($160 million tax increase); and the homestead property tax refund for homeowners be eliminated.
Additional individual income tax reductions are planned for tax years 2016 and 2017.
There are no corporate income tax changes planned at this time.
These tax increases along with borrowing from the State Highway Fund will not cover the funding hole.
Mike LoBurgio
Chairman of the Barton County Democratic Party