Kansas governor OKs extra funds for courts, higher education

Kansas State Capitol building

TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly approves a nearly $21 billion spending blueprint for the state government. It includes extra spending for education, courts and a new state health laboratory.

The measure is for the budget year beginning July 1.

Kelly used her power to veto individual budget items to remove only one provision. It would provide $500,000 for clinical trials of a COVID-19 treatment using stem cells. Kelly called it “unneeded” because of existing treatments and COVID-19 vaccines.

The measure included an additional $53 million for state universities and colleges to meet a federal requirement for states to maintain “historic” higher education funding to get coronavirus relief funds.

The measure had $17 million to increase pay for state court employees, including judges, and hire 70 new court services officers.

Lawmakers didn’t include raises for all state workers. Some argued taxpayers would be angry after thousands of people lost jobs and businesses closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure also authorizes $120 million in bonds to renovate a 1950s state office building near the Statehouse and $65 million in bonds for a new state Department of Health and Environment lab in the Topeka area.