The push to get federal money out to Kansas counties

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansas leadership is taking a close look at the state budget ahead of the start of fiscal year 2021 on July 1, 2020.

Due to coronavirus expenses and lack of revenue coming in to the state, Kansas is expected to see a $653 million budget shortfall in fiscal year 2021. However, according to the Kansas Constitution, the state budget cannot be in the negative. This means significant budget cuts are likely. But state agencies are still requesting $16 million in reimbursement for coronavirus-related expenses. This request was passed out of committee by the SPARK Task Force Executive Committee on Monday morning, but it must also get approval from the State Finance Council.

According to the Director of the Kansas Legislative Research Department, J.G. Scott, budget projections from April are holding true. Though he added that some tax incomes were better than projected.

“It’s really showing close to what…the impact of the COVID shutdown really did show,” said Scott.

But some money is coming into the state. More than $100 million in federal funding will be given to Kansas. It was left up to the SPARK Task Force to decide the best way to distribute the money to Kansas counties and they have elected to pass it out in three phases.

  • Phase One: In June, $400 million will go to counties to be used for health-related expenses that will help reopen the county safely and according to health guidelines.
  • Phase Two: In August, $525 million will go to counties to revitalize the economy.
  • Phase Three: In October, $324 million will go to counties to prepare for possible future emergencies.

The money must be used by counties for coronavirus-related expenses. The counties will also be required to submit monthly reports to the task force on how they are spending the money. If a county doesn’t expect to spend all of the money given to them, that money will be re-allocated out to other counties in phase three.

“I think that the counties will be really looking at what their needs are and how much of the allocation that we have they will be able to spend,” explained Cheryl Harrison-Lee, Director of the Kansas Recovery Office.

Johnson and Sedgwick counties receive separate funding from the Federal Government due to their large population size. All counties must spend Federal money by December 30, 2020, otherwise, it is taken back by the Federal Government.

The decisions made by the SPARK Task Force must be approved by the Senate Finance Council. The council will meet on Wednesday afternoon.

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