The Governor of Kansas Cuts Money From the State Budget for the Border, an Anti-abortion Program, and an Esu Earmark

The Governor of Kansas Cuts Money From the State Budget for the Border, an Anti-abortion Program, and an Esu Earmark

TOPEKA—Gov. Laura Kelly cut tens of millions of dollars from the state budget through a series of line-item vetoes. She did this by rejecting money to send the Kansas National Guard to the border with Mexico, money for anti-abortion programs, and another plan to fund Emporia State University’s “model” for falling enrollment.

Two-thirds of the members of both houses of the Legislature would have to vote to overturn any of the governor’s vetoes.

By signing Senate Bill 28, the governor kept most of the state’s $25 billion spending plan. The bill includes spending on water infrastructure, economic development projects, programs to train workers, and pay raises for state workers.

The budget would leave the state with a $3 billion profit based on how much money it brings in now. A bipartisan tax cut plan that would have cut the state’s yearly income by $520 million was vetoed by the governor on Wednesday. This would have used up the state’s reserves and left the state with a budget deficit within five years. She came up with an alternative plan that would mean about $430 million less in income, sales, and property taxes each year.

Along with legislative overrides, she cut the budget by getting rid of expensive things, wasteful spending, and pet projects that were started without much discussion or explanation.

Kelly turned down $15.7 million in funding that would have sent the Kansas National Guard to Texas to help with what is thought to be criminal behavior at the Mexico border.

He said, “As commander-in-chief of the Kansas National Guard, it is my constitutional duty to lead the National Guard while on state duty.” “It is not the job of the Legislature to set the rules or call in the National Guard.”

She said that lawmakers in Washington, D.C., need to take care of border security because it is a federal problem.

Kelly said, “When a governor sends soldiers on a federal mission, it is done on purpose and in a way that makes sure we can protect our communities and doesn’t put at risk the readiness of the Guard or make it harder for us to respond to natural disasters here at home.”

She turned down a request for $2 million for the Pregnancy Compassion Awareness Program, saying it was wrong to give public money to pregnancy crisis centers that are not regulated and don’t have medical credentials.

The money would keep the program going, which is run by the state treasurer’s office. A charity led by former U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp received the $2 million from the office last year. Huelskamp was connected to a plan to trick voters with fake text messages before the August 2022 vote on an anti-abortion constitutional amendment.

Kelly said that when Kansans voted heavily against that amendment, they “told politicians they should stop getting involved in private medical decisions between women and their doctors.”

The governor took $9 million out of the budget that was supposed to help the “ESU model.” In 2022, the university fired tenured professors saying there was a financial emergency. They then changed the name of the move to say it was an effort to make course offerings more in line with what Kansas businesses want and what new students want.

Former House Speaker Dan Hawkins and current ESU president Ken Hush were both in the same college fraternity in the early 1980s. Hawkins has praised the ESU plan as a way to meet “the needs of students and businesses in Kansas.”

“I believe it is truly the way forward for all higher education institutions in our state,” Hawkins said last year, when the state budget gave ESU an unusual $9 million grant.

In the fall, enrollment at ESU dropped 12.5%, while enrollment at all state universities rose 2%.

Another $9 million was set aside in this year’s budget for the ESU model, but Kelly said she would rather see money used to stabilize all state colleges.

The governor also vetoed a line item that got rid of language that would have let colleges make STAR Bond districts without the local government’s permission or a revenue requirement.

Kelly said, “I support creative ideas that would bring new economic development opportunities to the state. However, the changes to the program proposed in this budget do not do enough to protect the power of local governments or make sure that the projects will be able to pay for themselves in the long term.”

She also got rid of language that would have limited the state’s disability service wait lists, funding for foster care and child care programs that wouldn’t let open bidding happen, an illegal plan to use $1.8 million in federal food stamps for kids to pay for school toiletry kits, and a plan to change the rules for a state scholarship program to help for-profit private schools with taxpayer money.

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