Budget patches have Kansas lawmakers seeing broader problems

Kansas legislators are preparing to close a deficit largely with budget juggling, and a growing number are seeing broad problems with how the state is managing its finances.

Conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s critics blame his aggressive tax-cutting policies for crises across state government. The problems include inadequate pay at state prisons and short staffing in state mental hospitals.

Lawmakers in both parties also argued in recent debates that the fixes proposed by Brownback paper over the state’s budget gap rather than close it.

Brownback’s spokeswoman dismissed what she called “the sky is falling” criticism.

But even some allies acknowledged they’ll be largely doing a quick patch with budget-balancing legislation. The projected deficit is nearly $200 million in the state’s $16.1 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.