Governor plan to balance budget is questioned

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (AP Photo/Credit withheld)

WICHITA, Kansas – The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System is in the red. It has been for years.

Now, money that was promised to help fix KPERS is being used to balance the budget.

It has some in the Kansas Republican party asking questions.

“What the Governor did yesterday (Tuesday) was the allotment process,” says State Treasurer Ron Estes. “He’s making that effort.”

Estes says he’s spent some of this week talking to the state budget director, Shawn Sullivan, to see if KPERS could be spared in the budget cutting.

“More money for KPERS is a good thing,” Estes told KSN. “I’d hate to see, just a knee-jerk reaction, to dig ourselves back into an even deeper hole.”

Senate President Susan Wagle, one of Brownback’s close political allies, has come out publicly to say taking money promised to KPERS is not the right thing to do.

Wagle told the Associated Press this week Governor Brownback, “is picking winners and losers by being selective in cutting.”

Estes also announced, ““While I understand the need to re-balance the budget in light of unexpected shortfalls, the decision to delay state contributions to our underfunded pension system is disappointing.”

KPERS is currently $7 billion short on funding in the amount needed to pay promised benefits to all current and retired employees.

The governor on Wednesday also told the Associated Press he is working on ideas for both school funding changes and change in KPERS.

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