Kansas House Democrat makes impassioned plea not to withhold KPERS funding
Debate over spending for the next two years honed in Wednesday on the state’s massive pension obligations, with one Wichita Democrat making a passionate case for Kansas to pay its bills.
Rep. Henry Helgerson expressed consternation as members of the House budget panel mulled holding back a few hundred million dollars in retirement contributions at this stage in the budget crafting process.
“How many years have legislators been saying, ‘We’ll deal with this later on?’ ” he asked. “This isn’t an enhancement, this is debt. You put this off, the state is financially vulnerable to bankruptcy.”
Some members of the committee appeared torn, expressing agreement with Helgerson that the state’s pension woes are significant and urgent, yet citing uncertainty over available revenue. The panel voted 12 to 9 to review the matter later in the session, after revenue projections for the next few years are updated in late April and other factors, such as the cost of funding schools, are more clear.