Part of Kansas governor’s budget plan appears doomed

Opposition hardens to pension proposal
Part of Kansas governor’s budget plan appears doomed
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A key part of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s budget plan appears doomed, creating potential trouble for her proposals to boost education funding and expand Medicaid.

Opposition hardened swiftly Friday, a day after the Democratic governor proposed cutting the state’s annual payments to its pension system for teachers and government workers.

The move would free up $145 million during the budget year that begins in July to allow Kelly to increase spending on public schools, expand Medicaid health coverage for the needy, finance other initiatives and maintain healthy cash reserves.

A 2012 law committed the state to an aggressive schedule of increasing payments to pensions for teachers and government workers to close a long-term funding gap in the pension system by 2034. Kelly is proposing to revise the schedule so that the gap closes in 2049.

The pension system’s board of trustees voted unanimously Friday to condemn the proposal. Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature also have criticized it.