THE STATE BUDGET IS MORE THAN DOLLARS AND CENTS. It reflects the values of Kansas voters and the lawmakers elected to represent them. The important decisions to spend taxpayer dollars across many programs and services vital to children, families, and communities matter because the budget determines our state’s quality of life, including economic security, education, health care, and much more.
Kansans deserve a budget that invests in everyone, regardless of race, income, zip code, identity, or ability.
This can only be achieved by creating a stable revenue stream through a fair tax system, elevating policies that recognize and correct systemic disparities and barriers faced by marginalized groups, and understanding the impact budget decisions will have now and in the future.
KAC works to demystify budget issues and the process so more Kansans can engage in this area. Our goal is to increase transparency and participation in the discussions happening within communities and at the Statehouse to advance policies that work to ensure that families and children have the resources they need to grow up healthy and successful.
The Kansas Budget Is Healthy, Thanks to Key Investments and Fiscal Responsibility
After a decade of financial challenges corrected through recent policies to achieve fiscal stability, combined with higher-than-forecasted revenue, the Kansas budget has achieved surpluses in the past two fiscal years. The same is expected for FY 2024.
Some notable investments made during the 2023 Session:
Enhanced state match funding to draw down additional federal Child Care and Development Fund dollars to improve access to child care for low-income families.
Expansion of the Mental Health Intervention Team Pilot program to provide more access to mental and behavioral health services in Kansas schools.
Increased funding for senior nutrition programs across the state.
Creation of a state grant program to help Kansas communities pay matching funds for federal infrastructure grants.
Implementation of a long overdue pay plan that will raise salaries for all full-time state employees to within 10 percent of market pay, mitigating ongoing concerns about hiring and retention problems across most state agencies.
Though to a lesser extent than at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal funds to the state have helped defer some State General Fund costs, which in combination with strong state revenues have enabled the state to build a substantial rainy day fund just shy of $1.5 billion.
Early Childhood Issues
The Children’s Initiatives Fund (CIF), administered by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet, is one of the largest and only dedicated sources of funding for children and families programming in Kansas. In FY 2023, the CIF supported 11 evidence-based and data-driven programs with a focus on early childhood care and education, health screening, home visiting, and parent education.
The CIF relies on money the state receives from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement ($52.4 million in FY 2023) and some federal funds, but no additional support from the State General Fund. CIF dollars are also used as the match needed to draw down additional federal funding for several programs serving Kansas children and families.
Building a state where all children and families have the resources they need to thrive requires constant and careful management of the budget. To create a solid budget policy Kansas lawmakers must:
Design a state tax system that reliably and adequately funds the budget without disproportionately impacting low- and middle-income households
Protect rainy day funds for emergency uses to avoid budget cuts to essential programs and services during economic recessions
Ensure the state meets matching and maintenance of effort requirements to draw down all possible federal funds
Capitalize on federal incentives to expand Medicaid to improve the health and economic security of thousands of Kansas families and communities
Better invest in early childhood programs by supplementing the Children’s Initiatives Fund with State General Fund dollars
Mobilize state, federal, local, and private investments to support critical needs in vital services like health, education, and child care
Improve transparency and impact analysis on budget and tax expenditures to ensure that tax dollars are best used in ways that benefit all Kansans and lift up the most vulnerable