By Edward M. Eveld
November 12, 2015

A budget adjustment that swept $9 million from Kansas’ Children’s Initiatives Fund will mean a cut in money promised to 20 children’s programs, an advocacy group said Thursday.

A review by Kansas Action for Children said the shift would cost early childhood grant programs about 6.5 percent in funding for fiscal year 2016 and about 3 percent in fiscal year 2017.

But Eileen Hawley, spokeswoman for Gov. Sam Brownback, said the budget adjustment wouldn’t alter grant funding.

“As we said last week, this one-time adjustment should not result in a reduction in grant funding or the services delivered through them,” Hawley said.

That was the message from the administration when budget director Shawn Sullivan announced more than $100 million in budget adjustments, including moving $9 million from the Children’s Initiatives Fund to the general fund.

Budget changes were needed after a new estimate lowered expected revenue by $159 million for fiscal year 2016, which ends in June.

Kansas Action for Children said the Brownback administration had asked earlier that grant recipients from the fund shift their grant cycles from calendar years to fiscal years. That change made it appear there were unencumbered funds, but the money was already allocated, the group said.

“The governor’s fancy accounting tricks don’t dull the impact of the sweeps on Kansas children and families,” Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children, said in a statement. “These programs produce some of the most impressive early childhood outcomes in Kansas, and they are being sacrificed for a failing tax plan that has spiraled out of control.”

Hawley said the Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, which administers early childhood block grants, has the required funding to meet its current grant obigations. The adjustment aligns the grants with the correct accounting period and helps the state remain in compliance with budget laws, she said.

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