For about an hour Saturday morning, Rep. Marc Rhoades (R-Newton) spoke and answered questions about budget problems at the state level.


For about an hour Saturday morning, Rep. Marc Rhoades (R-Newton) spoke and answered questions about budget problems at the state level.
He spoke Saturday at Charlies about proposed, or made, budget cut after budget cut.
Every issue, and every question, sounded dire. Raquel Thiessen, a member of the Newton City Commission, then made a statement and asked a question that changed the tone of the legislative update sponsored by the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce.
“My observation is all the topics are daunting issues with a multitude of implications,” Thiessen said. “How do you think we make forward progress as these competing values are at play?”
Rhoades, who is the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, then laid out a road-map for how he believes state governmental budgets should be done.
“I wish we had more of a prioritizing system that we could prioritize our needs,” Rhoades said. “I don’t know that if we leave it all to the Legislature we can get there.”
He called for a bi-partisan effort to set critical needs — fund those needs, and everything else comes later.


“We will still disagree on what the needs are,” Rhoades said. “There are 100 different set of values.”
The current budget process exposes what he is speaking of, and in some ways an effort to create those priorities.
One hot-button issue Rhoades was asked about was an executive order by the Governor to effectively disband the Kansas Arts Commission as a state agency.
“At some point we have to ask ‘what is the role of state government and can we narrow it?’” Rhoades said. “I actually prefer to keep it iin, but we have to look at what is core government.”
Rhoades also fielded questions about special education budgets, mental health budgets  and tax rates.
In each case, there was discussion of budget cuts, as the Governor’s office and Legislature work to end the year with a balance in the state general fund. Following the last budget year, that balance was $500.
“We do not want to be there again,” Rhoades said. “We know, based on estimates, that next year will be as bad as this year. ... I have heard the number of $1 billion that we will have to find.”
The next legislative update will be 9 a.m. April 9 at Charlies Restaurant, 200 Manchester.