In a painful, pre-Thanksgiving announcement, Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson laid out the bad news. Revenues are down [pdf] and expenses are up, so he made cuts to the Kansas state budget [pdf]. Again. Said the governor, “The cuts we are making now are to basic services.”
He wasn’t kidding. One of the local school district superintendents put it like this [pdf]:
Dear Shawnee Mission Employees, Parents, Patrons, and Students:
As reports on the state’s financial situation continue to decline, Governor Mark Parkinson, on Monday, announced another reduction in public school funding. The state faces a shortfall of nearly $260 million and must balance the budget for the current fiscal year. To accomplish this, Governor Parkinson ordered a cut to K-12 education in the amount of $191.8 million.
Although we do not yet know the exact dollar amount and resulting impact to our school district, the preliminary figures appear to be significant. According to state department of education data and our calculations, Shawnee Mission will likely receive a cut of approximately $7.2 million for the current school year.
These reductions from the state will take place immediately and represent the fourth reduction in funding for schools since March 2009.
Four reductions in eight months, and they are cuts to the current year’s budget. Another superintendent of a different district noted that this will put state spending for his district at 2006 levels — and it could get worse than that. And that’s just the K-12 schools. Funding for the Regents’ System universities was slashed to 2006 levels, forcing tuition hikes to make up at least some of the lost revenue, but as one board member noted, “You just can’t offer services at a 2011 level on a 2006 budget.”
Then there’s the rest of the state budget. Last year, the state made what were supposed to be temporary one-year cuts (known as “lapses”) to various state departments and programs, and now many of these have been carried over for another year. Medicaid providers are getting a 10% cut to their payments. The Kansas National Guard is shutting down 18 of their 56 armories. The Kansas Highway Patrol has started cutting the miles its troopers drive by 10%.
Now for the bad news: we’re talking about Kansas, not California or Arizona or Michigan. According to research by the Pew Center on the States, Kansas is one of the healthier states in the nation when it comes to suffering in this recession. (Check your state’s ranking here [pdf]).
News flash from Kansas to DC and Wall Street: it’s going to be a while before the end of the recession can be seen outside of Manhattan. Just ask the teachers in Kansas, the Kansas state police, the Kansas National Guard, the Kansas hospitals . . .
(h/t photo by Denver Pam)