On Thursday the Manhattan city commission and city officials met with state legislators to compare notes in preparation for the upcoming year.
City manager Ron Fehr gave a brief presentation highlighting the new growth in the city, and future projects in the works such as the national bio and agriculture defense facility. Fehr stated he hopes funds from the state at least stay at the same level as recent cuts have made city operations more complex.
In return legislators were very blunt about an uncertain future in the state’s budget, and the importance of the upcoming decision by the judicial branch on education funding.
According to 51st district representative Ron Highland if the courts decide to raise school funding it would require the state to come up with over 400 million dollars currently not covered within the budget. Another concern raised by representative Highland was an upcoming push to regulate coal plants beyond current technological capacity. Highland said that will apply even more pressure onto all aspects of economics within the state.
District 67 representative Tom Phillip said he wants to push for more funding higher education in the new session. Commissioner Wynn Butler disagreed with that sentiment saying the higher education process should be changed to keep spending at the lower levels.
City officials restated the fact that they would like to retain the ability to lobby the legislature, and bring forward concerns to lawmakers. A previous push to disallow city lobbies to operate in the capital was considered in the state legislature.
For the second time the subject of the new standard put out by the governmental accounting standards board in regards to pensions was talked about by city and state officials. The new standards would place the liability of KPERS pensions on the city, and possibly negatively effect their bonds rating. The GASB is not a governmental entity, and city staff questioned whether or not it was a wise move to adopt the new system.
The Kansas legislature will begin its new session on Monday.