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Brownback wants $378 million tax increase to fix Kansas' budget woes

Bryan Lowry, The Wichita Eagle on

Published in News & Features

The tax proposals would go toward shoring up the state's finances for the next fiscal year, which begins in July.

Sullivan joked that the budget could be called "the lobbyist job protection act," anticipating the fight that will take place over the governor's proposals.

To fill the current fiscal year's shortfall of more than $340 million, Brownback is proposing liquidating the state's long-term investment fund.

The state invests idle funds from state agencies every year. Brownback can already tap roughly $45 million from the fund, which represents the profit from investment, but will need the Legislature to approve legislation in order to pull back the remaining $317 million in the fund, which represents the principal.

Brownback proposes paying back the fund over seven years.

The governor is also proposing freezing the state's contribution to the state employees' pension fund at 2016 rates, which will allow the state to save $85.9 million by avoiding the increased contribution rate.

If lawmakers agree to these proposals, the state would have roughly $99.6 million in its general fund at the end of June. Brownback asked lawmakers in his State of the State address to pass a bill making the current year's budget adjustments before the end of January.

Brownback's budget proposals for the following fiscal year could prove more controversial.

The governor wants to sell off the state's future proceeds from a legal settlement with the tobacco companies.

The state currently receives an approximately $60 million payment from the settlement. Under Brownback's plan the state would be forgoing that payment for the next 30 years in exchange for cash now.

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