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‘It will be drastic and very harmful,’ Governor Kelly warns of possible budget cuts

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas governor Laura Kelly is warning of potential big budget cuts if Kansas cannot turn around its coronavirus response.

The state recorded 1,513 new coronavirus cases and 23 deaths since Friday. Last week, KDHE Secretary Lee Norman warned that, because of the previous holiday weekend, testing and hospital results would likely be delayed, resulting in higher numbers.

Kansas has now lost more than 500 people to the coronavirus.

“We cannot become numb to these numbers. Our family members, our friends and our neighbors who have passed away from this virus are more than just a number,” said Governor Kelly. “There’s the retired Derby police officer who lost his life just days after his wife also succumbed to the virus. There’s the Olathe West High School’s beloved assistant baseball coach, who’s being mourned by his students, his colleagues, and the Olathe community. There’s the Wichita man, who succumbed COVID weeks after returning home from caring for his elderly father, who had also contracted the virus.”

The SPARK Task Force was assembled to distribute millions of dollars in federal CARES Act funding in three rounds. The task force is working to finalize and send out the final $290 million to communities. Governor Kelly said some of that final round money will go to additional testing in the state; including the testing of asymptomatic individuals.

But that money was not permitted to be used to pay off state debt or backfill state revenue loss. Governor Kelly said the federal government must send additional funding to help the state’s work their way out of the economic impact of the virus. She said, without this help, Kansas will likely see major budget cuts in fiscal year 2022.

“We will see some pretty serious cuts across the board: in education, in transportation, in the pension contributions,” explained Kelly. “I mean it will be drastic and very harmful to Kansas and to our local municipalities.”

The SPARK Task Force is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, September 16, to make recommendations for the $290 million in CARES Act funding. Those recommendations must then be approved by the State Finance Council.

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