Lawmakers ready to look for solutions to the budget shortfall

Kansas Capitol (KSN file photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – Still a lot of work ahead for legislators as they return to Topeka this week, as they try to continue find ways to drill down a deficit of more than $400 million.

Republican Senator Michael O’Donnell says Governor Sam Brownback reviewed the consensus revenue estimates, showing an $80 million difference, on top of the current shortfall.

“He’s looked at different ways to get efficiencies in the state and what is the state currently doing now that we can delay,” said O’Donnell.

O’Donnell says one of those delays could involve pushing back payments for the National Bio Science Authority Facility that’s already being built in Manhattan.

“The state is putting in $250 million and the feds are putting in $750 million so we would delay some of those payments and just bond it out and pay less here for the next few years and then catch up later,” said O’Donnell.

O’Donnell says another thing the governor is considering is raising the fees for the three groups that provide Medicaid to Kansans.

The plan is to charge them a higher privilege fee to do business.

“There’s a medical fee fund that allows them to operate in the state and that would allow us to receive a lot more federal funds back,” said O’Donnell.

That would come at the tune of upwards of $80 million.

However, with all the ideas being kicked around, from a gas tax to a sales tax, O’Donnell says it’s up to the legislature to figured it out and he says that likely will include new taxes.

“We are truly at that point where we are going to have to make some big kid decisions, we are going to have to be big boys and girls in Topeka,” said O’Donnell.

With lawmakers trying to get a handle on just how they will balance this budget, some lawmakers are not willing to talk specifics yet.

“There are so many options right now that I’m not willing to talk about just one or two of them, again, all options are on the table for discussion, ” said Republican House Member Steve Brunk.

Brunk points out, there are many ways to fix the budget, and he says Republicans would still like to shrink the size of the budget overall.

Some behind the scenes work is happening right now with key lawmakers, the entire House and Senate get back to work on Wednesday.

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