Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a portion of the state's fiscal year 2020 budget containing an additional $51 million in contributions for the $18.8 billion Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, Topeka.
The line-item veto, one among several for the bill Ms. Kelly signed Monday, was the result of her concern about a total of $182 million in extra spending from the state general fund.
Ms. Kelly's first legislative signing in February was a bill allocating $115 million from the state general fund to KPERS. The law was passed to reduce the state's long-term contributions to school employees, KPERS' largest employee group, which has the lowest funding ratio at 61.6%, well below the total KPERS funding ratio of 68.4%.
"Given the large number of critical, unmet needs still facing state government, it is not prudent to add an additional KPERS payment that goes beyond the regularly scheduled payments already being made," Ms. Kelly said about the proposed $51 million in additional contributions in a notice on her website Monday. "In fact, this could actually harm the state's ability to make full, timely KPERS payments in the very near future. This line-item veto provides an essential cushion to the state ending balance so that Kansas can continue to pay its bills and rebuild the state more sustainably."
State Rep. Troy Waymaster, chairman of the Kansas House of Representative's appropriations committee, current sponsor of the bill, said he was "a little bit dismayed" by the veto and there may be an override vote when the state House goes back into session on May 29. He said the contribution is necessary to continue the years-long process of improving the plan's funding ratio and the $115 million she approved earlier this year was to make up for "past payment we didn't make for the past two years."