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Budget passes, headed to governor for final signature

There are still a lot of questions about state finances down the road, but lawmakers wrapped up the shortest session in over 40 years by passing a nearly $15 billion budget late Friday night.

 

All three local lawmakers -- Sen. Jeff Longbine and Reps. Don Hill and Peggy Mast -- voted in favor of the budget, largely because this dealt with supplemental aspects and leaves the prior budget passed last month almost intact. Rep. Don Hill says there is a minor adjustment for Emporia State, with the state reclaiming about $65,000 as classified employees change their designation, but other items affecting ESU -- salary cap adjustments, money for the Honors College and the ability to claim profits after selling the married student housing complex -- all remain in place.

The budget does not take into account the April revenue report, which had tax receipts almost $93 million lower than expected. Lawmakers like Andover Sen. Ty Masterson says the state has enough in ending cash balances to cover the shortfall, but both Hill and Emporia Sen. Jeff Longbine are worried about the current trends.

Masterson also said the best time to handle long-term fixes would be when lawmakers reconvene in January. Democrats, who say income tax cuts the past two years have set the stage for not only April's revenue report but a longer-term cash flow issue, argued the state missed an opportunity to amend tax policy. Mast, meanwhile, says lawmakers need a clearer picture on where revenues are headed.

The budget gives a $250 bonus to some 38,000 full-time state employees. It also eliminated a proposal to give a 1.5 percent pay raise for classified employees and took out $5 million for the state's endowment for a youth fund.

Lawmakers finished their work in 79 days, making this the shortest legislative session since 1972.

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