November 12, 2015
Update on the state and university budget
On Nov. 6, a group of economists and tax experts met in Topeka to revise the state's projected revenue collections for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. These experts were tasked with updating the estimates that were originally developed last April and upon which the current state budget is based.
These fiscal forecasters have subsequently lowered the estimated revenue collections by approximately $159.1 million and $195 million for fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017, respectively. A copy of the revised revenue estimate is available at the Division of Budget website.
The lowered revenue estimates for fiscal 2016 would have left the state with a negative ending balance in the State General Fund, or SGF. As a result, the governor immediately ordered a series of budget cuts for certain state agencies as well as transfers and the sweeping of one-time cash balances from other state agency funds in order to fill the funding gap left by the lowered revenue estimates.
The only adjustment to higher education was a sweep of unspent scholarship appropriation within the Board of Regents budget. However, after the shuffling of funds and cutting some budgets, the current estimated ending balance for the state in fiscal 2016 is $5.6 million. This is an extremely low balance considering total State General Fund expenditures for fiscal 2016 are estimated at $6.2 billion.
On Nov. 10, the Division of Budget released the fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 budget recommendations to the governor for the budget that was submitted by the university in September. The fiscal 2017 budget included the benefit rate adjustments but the fund increases were reduced from the other operating expenditures so the State General Fund and tuition fund equaled the same amount as fiscal 2016.
In addition, the university requested $5 million in recurring funding from state general funds in fiscal 2017 for geosciences infrastructure and program support in the College of Arts & Sciences as approved by the Kansas Board of Regents. The Division of Budget did not recommend any changes to our State General Fund appropriations for fiscal 2017. Unfortunately, it did not recommend funding of the geosciences enhancement. The university will appeal to the governor by Nov. 20 for funding of the geosciences enhancement request.
The governor will consider these recommendations and submit a budget to the state Legislature in early January at the beginning of the 2016 session for its consideration. His budget must balance to the new lower revenue estimates. The Legislature will consider the governor's budget recommendations, agency testimony and any tax policy changes as it crafts a final fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 budget to be released by the end of the session — hopefully sometime in April or May 2016.
If you have any questions regarding the budget, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Ethan Erickson at 785-532-6677.