- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget chief is asking state agencies and universities to study the prospect of a 5 percent funding cut.

Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley told the Wichita Eagle (https://bit.ly/2baYry7 ) that budget director Shawn Sullivan requested the information from state agencies. But Hawley stressed no decision has been made about whether cuts will be needed, saying it’s common to ask agencies to think about reduced budgets.

A revenue-estimating group that includes Sullivan and the state’s economists next meet in November to determine the state’s revenue outlook. That group meets twice a year and has lowered revenue estimates each of the past four times it has met. If that happens again, budget cuts could be necessary since the state already operates at razor-thin budget margins.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, said the administration’s request leaves “no question” that Brownback and Sullivan lack confidence in the state’s ability to meet its budget expenses.

“The Legislature passed an unbalanced budget for the first time in my memory and Brownback and Sullivan understand that it’s not sustainable, so as a consequence they have to cut the budget even further,” said Hensley, a four-decade lawmaker.

Brownback issued budget cuts in May and June to help shore up the state’s budget, including 4 percent cuts to the state’s universities and to Medicaid provider reimbursement rates.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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