Government & Politics

Groups unite against budget cuts

TOPEKA — Advocates representing some of the groups affected by state budget reductions — including home community services, the elderly, those with disabilities and education — vowed Friday to band together against further cuts.

"These cuts have gone too far and we can no longer cut our way out of the problem," said Mark Desetti, lobbyist for Kansas National Education Association.

The group — calling itself Kansans for Quality Communities — urged lawmakers to look at ways to add money to the state's coffers instead of resorting to more cuts. The group did not offer a specific proposal on what taxes should be increased.

"Many legislators think only in terms of budget cuts," said Shannon Jones, executive director of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas .

The advocates warned that prior cuts already had eroded services and programs that helped Kansas communities thrive and sometimes save money.

Over the past year, lawmakers and the governor have cut about $1 billion from what was originally a $6.2 billion budget.

Lawmakers return to Topeka on Monday and face an additional $358.7 million shortfall for the 2011 budget.

Some of the reduced programs — such as in-home services — provided a less expensive alternative to nursing homes, Jones said.

At the very least, Desetti said, lawmakers should not pass more tax cuts during the next session.