Kansas Liberty reports that the balancing act performed by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius on the fiscal year 2009 budget is, well, a little off-kilter. (Fiscal 2009 is the current budget year, ending on June 30, 2009).
In the post Sebelius’ new budget misses the target by $50 million we learn that relying on budget numbers just two months old leads to a budget plan that won’t address the full reality of the situation:
But the use of out-dated numbers means the budget will result in a deficit, no matter how accurate the projections are.
Sebelius’ budget recommendations are based on the November Consensus Revenue Estimating Group’s initial deficit projection of $141 million for fiscal year 2009, and $1.021 billion for fiscal year 2010.
However, new revenue shortfalls have suggested a more accurate picture is a deficit of $185.5 million for fiscal year 2009 and $1.066 billion for fiscal year 2010, as reported yesterday in Kansas Liberty.
Last week in Wichita, questioning by Senator Susan Wagle seemed to indicate a deficit of around $200 million. Privately, one senator told me he would not be surprised to see the deficit balloon to $250 million by the end of June, as economic conditions seem to worsen every day.
Martin Hawver explained the politics behind the Governor’s decision to use the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group’s figures of $141 million in his article The politics of budget cutting:
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The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, comprised of fiscal wizards who, well, estimate future revenues into the State General Fund, predicts that revenues will fall at least $211 million before the fiscal year ends on June 30, 2009. What that means is that spending approved by last year’s Legislature is about $140 million more than Kansas is likely to have (the state had been looking forward to ending this fiscal year with a small balance). … Here’s the political good part, if we can call it that. Sebelius has to meet the figures produced by the revenue estimators back on Nov. 4, and revenues have gotten worse since then. But the Nov. 4 estimate, legally, is the target she is required to meet. … It probably means that the Legislature is going to have to cut more spending this fiscal year, but Sebelius gets to make the least-icky of the cuts. And the political focus will be on the Legislature’s additional cuts to get through this fiscal year.