Linda Seick has been in the classroom teaching Spanish for the past 27 years. And while retirement is not necessarily on her mind, Seick knows she has her pension fund for when that day comes.
“You are counting on that. You’re counting to be able to have the day where you can enjoy life beyond the classroom or beyond the school,” she said.
But now she’s worried. Kansas lawmakers voted to delay payments to the state’s pension system for the next two years. The goal was to use that money to help close the state’s budget gap.
“You can’t help but wonder, when I do retire, is that money there or not,” said Seick.
Kansas lawmakers burned the midnight oil Sunday night, approving a budget bill early Monday morning. The bill addresses a $290 million budget gap.
The Senate approved the measure on a 22-18 vote just after 3 a.m. Monday, after several GOP senators switched their votes. The House approved the plan two hours earlier, 63-59.
The budget bill still needs to be approved by Gov. Sam Brownback.
As passed, the plan takes $185 million from the state highway fund (delaying projects) and cuts about $17 million from state universities. The University of Kansas and Kansas State University are expected to take the brunt of the cuts, as they have the biggest budgets.
Students worry the cuts could result in tuition hikes.
“It would definitely make a difference just because tuition is hard to afford as it is,” said Natalie Ballard, a KU senior.
One matter still hanging over lawmakers is an upcoming Supreme Court decision regarding school funding. If the court decides a school funding plan passed by the legislature in March does not comply with its order, lawmakers will have to head back to Topeka.
Ariel Rothfield can be reached at Ariel.Rothfield@KSHB.com.