Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. today signed the state budget for the 2019 Fiscal year at a ceremony at Pittsburg State University.
In his remarks, Colyer said, “I am pleased to be able to sign a budget that strikes the balance between fiscal responsibility and making the necessary investments in our schools, our workforce and our communities. It has been exciting to see the progress our state has made over the past few months, and I look forward to seeing the incredible impact these investments will have on our state.”
The State Budget for FY 2018-2019:
Makes a Historic Investment in Education:
The 2018-2019 budget increases our investment in K-12 education by more than half a billion dollars. This $525 million investment will be stair-stepped over five years, so that it will not result in a tax increase on hardworking Kansans.
The increased investment in education prioritizes outcomes for our students, increases funds available for special education programs and will result in higher pay for Kansas teachers.
Our state’s colleges and universities are ranked in the top 15 nationally.* The 2018-2019 budget makes important investments to ensure that we remain a national leader in higher education by increasing funding by $18 million to our state’s higher education institutions. Increased investment will help keep tuition from rising at historical rates.
The FY 2018-2019 budget invests an additional $9.6 million to fund early childhood development programs including the Pre-K pilot, Parents-as-Teachers and Children Initiatives Fund programs.
We are also giving back to those who serve our country in the Kansas National Guard by funding up to 15 credit-hours per semester at a state institution at little to no cost to the student.
Prioritizes Workforce development:
A skilled workforce is absolutely critical to the long-term growth of Kansas. That’s why this budget fully funds SB 155, which provides free tuition to high school students who are enrolled in technical education courses. As the home of the Air Capital of the World, aviation is one of the strongest sectors of our economy. This budget helps us build upon those strengths by investing $5 million in the National Institute for Aviation Research and another $1.7 million in the National Center for Aviation Training, both of which will allow us to bolster our workforce training efforts and help us ensure our aerospace manufacturers have the talent they need to continue to thrive in Kansas.
This budget also funds an expansion of the Jobs for America’s Graduates program (JAG), which partners with at-risk students to prepare them for college and help them successfully enter the workforce.
Invests in State Employees:
For state government to be successful, it is crucial that we have the ability to secure the best talent available. Our state agencies need quality employees to be able to carry out their missions effectively. That’s why this budget includes additional funds to help bring our state employees compensation closer to the market rate. We also included much needed pay increases for our state correctional officers.
For more than 20 years, our KPERS system has been underfunded. The 2018-2019 budget begins to address that issue with an $82-million investment into the KPERS system. Our state employees are some of our most valuable assets. They work hard and ensure that state government works for Kansans, and they deserve to know that the retirement they have worked for will be there for them when they are ready to retire.
Funds Critical Needs at DCF:
The 2018-2019 budget also takes aim at critical needs at the Department for Children and Families, providing funds for the agency to hire an additional 20 full-time child welfare case workers to their field staff and adding $2 million dollars to our family preservation programs, so that we can keep more families together.
We have also allocated funds to secure emergency crisis beds to end the practice of foster children sleeping in agency offices. This bill will also allow DCF to hire a full time protective investigator to assist the agency in locating missing children.
Makes Investments in Infrastructure:
As an important logistical hub in the Midwest, a great highway system is important to the economic health of the state. The 2018-2019 budget reduces transfers from the State Highway Fund by $59.6 million and leaves a higher balance in the highway fund to address delayed T-WORKS projects.
Strengthens our Hospitals and Nursing Homes:
The 2018-2019 budget includes $22.1 million to provide a 4% increase in reimbursement rates for hospitals, in addition to $17.7 million to increase reimbursement rates for nursing homes. It is critically important to keep our health care facilities viable so they can continue providing quality care to Kansans. We have also included funding for pay increases to our nursing home surveyors to help us better recruit and retain staff to ensure that our regulatory oversight of nursing homes is timely and appropriate.
This budget also increases Medicaid reimbursement rates by $556,000 for emergency medical services providers.
Innovates in Agriculture:
The FY 2019 budget invests $250,000 in a Cattle Traceability Pilot Program in the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA). The United States Department of Agriculture intends to tighten existing rules on its Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) program. This program increases our ability to trace animals back from slaughter and forward from premises where they are identified, as well as trace animals’ interstate movements to identify, prevent and control disease.
Gov. Colyer concluded his remarks with optimism about the direction of the state, saying, “It is clear that Kansas is getting back on the right track. I am honored to serve as the governor of this great state, and I pledge to continue to fight to ensure we succeed in offering the best service possible to the people of Kansas.”