Kansas AG bemoans budget cuts

Chris Rizo Nov. 23, 2009, 6:56pm

Steve Six (D)

Mark Parkinson (D)

TOPEKA, Kansas (Legal Newsline)-Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson's plan to help close a $258 million revenue shortfall in the current year's budget has drawn criticism from the state attorney general.

Cuts announced by the Democratic governor will affect all corners of the state budget, including K-12 schools, which will be cut to their 2006 funding levels amid declining tax revenues.

"It is my obligation as a leader to balance the budget. But it is also my duty to protect our most precious resources. So I have once again balanced the budget," Parkinson said in a statement.

The state's judicial branch will have $3 million cut from its budget, while the attorney general's office would lose more than $2 million.

The round of budget cuts announced Monday is the fifth this fiscal year.

Attorney General Steve Six, in a statement, said he is disappointed by the governor's plan for significant cuts to his office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

"Both agencies play key roles in protecting our families, assisting consumers and preventing fraud in government programs," Six said. "The money that was cut from our budget is used to fund criminal prosecutions, crime victim services, legal counsel for state agencies and much more."

Six called on state lawmakers to find a different budget fix in January when they reconvene.

"I encourage the Legislature to come together in January to find a more sustainable solution to the current budget crisis," he said. "The safety of our communities should be a priority for lawmakers."

Derrick Sontag, director of the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity-Kansas, said the governor was correct to make program cuts rather than try to make the state's ends meet by increasing taxes.

"It's our hope once the legislative session starts, that the governor doesn't bow to the demands of taxpayer-funded lobbyists calling for tax increases in this difficult economic time for Kansans, but that he is willing to take an even closer look at our state expenditures and propose additional cuts where necessary," Sontag said. "It is critical in this time of economic difficulty that all areas of the budget be scrutinized, and to seek out long-term solutions to improve how we budget taxpayer dollars."

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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