Surplus tobacco settlement funds spark Kansas debate

Cigarettes (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)
Cigarettes (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) – Kansas’ share of tobacco settlement funds has come in higher than expected for the second year in a row, prompting a debate in Topeka over where the extra money should go.

Several tobacco companies agreed in 1998 to reimburse states for smoking-related costs over more than two decades, and Kansas law requires the money to be spent on early childhood programs.

Any money left over is supposed to go into the Kansas Endowment for Youth to help fund the programs when the settlement funds run out.

This year Kansas had budgeted $55.8 million from the settlement, but instead received a check for $60.2 million. Children’s advocates say the extra money should go into the endowment, but lawmakers say it’s needed elsewhere in tight economic times.

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