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Local lawmakers weigh in on Pew Trust report concerning budget reserves

There are several takeaways from a think tank report showing Kansas has precious little in reserve funding in case of a financial disaster.
 
Pew Charitable Trust says Kansas has two days' worth of reserve funding available. That's down from 4.2 days based on fiscal 2015 numbers, when Kansas had the second-lowest amount of reserves behind Pennsylvania's 2.6 days of reserve funds.
 
Takeaway No. 1, according to 76th District Rep. Peggy Mast, is lawmakers haven't adhered to a law saying the state has to have a 7.5 percent ending balance based on the overall budget. And they haven't for a long time.
 
{wbty_audio audio_id="18239" audio_title="Mast: Rare to have the minimum ending balances"} 
 
Takeaway No. 2 comes from 51st District Rep. Ron Highland. More efficiences have been found and they need to be implemented.
 
{wbty_audio audio_id="18240" audio_title="Highland: We know where efficiencies are"} 
 
The third takeaway, according to 60th District Rep. Don Hill, is there also needs to be a closer look at the revenue side.
 
{wbty_audio audio_id="18241" audio_title="Hill: Also need to find more revenue"} 
 
According to 17th District Sen. Jeff Longbine, takeaway No. 4 involves a total change in budget approach. In short, lawmakers may not be working off Gov. Sam Brownback's budget at some point in the future.
 
{wbty_audio audio_id="18242" audio_title="Longbine: Competing budgets coming?"} 
 
The total reserves for Kansas now are around $35 million. Kansas had to delay a nearly $100 million pension payment and about $75 million in school payments until this year in order to have that amount in reserves. S&P Global Ratings downgraded the state's credit rating back in July in part because of withdrawals from reserve funds. 
 
The report comes as the state is grappling with two straight months of revenues not meeting expectations to start the current fiscal year. Because of shortfalls in July and August, the state is now about $20 million underwater for the rest of the fiscal year ending next June. The September report may come out Monday.
 
Revenues have now missed expectations for 22 out of the past 24 months. Gov. Sam Brownback is not announcing plans for cuts at this time, saying he prefers to wait until lawmakers formally return to work in January -- although he has said recently a massive tax increase would be needed if the Kansas Supreme Court tells the state to add hundreds of millions of dollars to public education.