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Local legislators offer differing opinions on revenue report, education funding model discussion

Like many legislators in Topeka, local lawmakers are split on what Wednesday's revised revenue estimates mean for the state moving forward.

Analysts now predict the state will collect $5.85 billion in tax revenues for the current fiscal year ending in June. That's down half-a-percent from the April estimate and down over 7.5 percent from what the state collected in fiscal 2013.

Emporia Rep. Peggy Mast joins interim budget director John Hummell in saying this should actually be good news because massive income tax cuts this year should lead to higher revenues in other categories.

Emporia Sen. Jeff Longbine isn't convinced. He calls the revenue trends "troublesome."

Rep. Don Hill has been out of state and unavailable for comment.

Wednesday's report came on the same day lawmakers met to discuss possible changes to the state's education funding method. Even before the trimmed revenue estimate, lawmakers were planning to spend a lot of time on education funding in large part because of a pending lawsuit before the Kansas Supreme Court.

A decision is expected within the next two months. Both Mast and Longbine say further discussion is possible when lawmakers begin the 2014 session in January, but Longbine isn't sure there will be action. Longbine also believes the current formula is largely sufficient to handle K-through-12 funding, while Mast is suggesting block grants to school districts as an option.

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