InterHab’s Update from Topeka 11th Hour Budget Deliberations
“At 9:23 tonight, on the 89th day of the 2011 legislative session, Senate Ways and Means Chair Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, accepted the House’s final budget offer sealing the 2011 and 2012 budgets. The acceptance sends the piles of agreements to revisors to be turned into a bill—expected with some luck late Friday—and to the research department to prepare the narrative Thursday that both House and Senate will need to inform their caucuses on the deal’s contents.”
That captures the essence of this year’s budget session. Too much done at the last minute so that that at the end of the process, no one knows for sure what has happened until the legislative staff lays it out and analyzes it.
To the best of our ability, we think we know most of the specifics of what has occurred in the final budget deal:
1. No specific rate cuts for providers.
2. An increase in HCBS funding, to modestly reduce the waiting list
3. Cutof $3.5 million in SGF day and residential grant funding (no, the administration did not successfully protect the $1.5 million in SGF grant funding adopted by the House.)
4. There is further bad news in last night’s changes to this budget … the Administration reportedly offered up additional assurances that they could cut an additional 5% at SRS, an offer which both houses settled on. The original thought was that the 5% could be gotten from administrative costs, without touching programs, but no one seems to believe that is possible. So, if not from administrative items? Where would it come from? The obvious first fear would have been provider rate cuts, but, there is a BIG exemption drawn into the budget. All case loads and all waivers are exempted from the 5% cut to the SRS budget. The legislative intent appears to be clear, according to the legislative staff who are writing the final reports and appropriations legislation. The dollar amount in the final budget does NOT reflect a 5% cut for HCBS waivers. We shall see how strongly that intent is supported by the Administration.
We are almost exactly in the same place where we were before the Veto Session began. The overall State budget is reduced, much more that in the past, but that reflects the more conservative House, Senate and Governor’s administration. The DD budget is not dramatically altered, in aggregate terms.
In the end, after several years in which the Senate GOP moderates and Senate Democrats dominated the end-game of the legislative sessions, thwarting deeper cuts, and passing needed revenue enhancements, this year saw the House Conservatives succeed. For our issues, relative to the climate of the current year, we were successful. Our cuts were not in the same deep ranges of the cuts felt by others. Our wins are marginally likely to overshadow our defeats. However, the long term view for Kansas is murky, at best.
Those who dominated the closing hour of the debate this week are convinced that deeper cuts are needed. The bullets we may have dodged this year will be reloaded and fired again in the coming year.