Kansas budget director says funding increases can be paid for with existing revenues; doubts expressed

Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director said the state should be able to pay for the proposed five-year, $600 million increase in school funding, plus a few other enhancements in the state budget, all within existing resources, an assertion that many state lawmakers have said they believe is unlikely.

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan briefed news outlets about the governor’s plan early Wednesday morning, then went before both the House and Senate budget committees, where he underwent intense, but otherwise polite, questioning.

The plan calls for adding roughly $100 million directly into base per-pupil funding for public schools over each of the next five years. In addition, it takes credit for the $87.8 million base funding increase for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that lawmakers approved last year, despite Brownback’s objection to it. And it provides another $6 million to address some equity issues that the Supreme Court took exception to in its most recent school finance decision.

That brings the grand total to $600.8 million, according to Sullivan. Of that, however, only $512.2 million is new money not already approved by lawmakers. Sullivan said the plan can be funded without a tax increase due to national economic growth, as well as the roughly $600 million-per-year income tax increase that lawmakers passed last year by overriding Brownback’s veto of it.

(Read more: LJWorld.com / Lawrence, Kansas)