Debt service and large ending balances may not be sexy, but they show where Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s priorities lie, as her first budget attempts to put the state on solid fiscal footing.

“We did have some extra money in the ending balance,” said Governor Kelly. “We had $370 million more than we had anticipated. What we did with that is what you should be doing with one-time money. We paid off debt. We owed the Pooled Money Investment Board $317 million and, in one fell swoop, we have paid that back in my budget.”

Part of the reason to make that payment is to help the state’s outlook with those who buy securities.

“The credit rating agencies look at those kinds of things,” said Kelly. “They’re very important. I think the fact that we did that will boost our credit rating across the country.”

The priorities laid out by Kelly in her State of the State address were funding K-12 education, fixing child welfare issues and expanding Medicaid.

“We’re looking at a 9.7 percent ending balance for the remainder of this fiscal year and then a 9.1 percent ending balance for fiscal year 2020,” said Kelly. “We were able to do that because we approached the budget process very strategically.”

The state will go back to a single-year budget cycle for most things, except for K-12 education and fee-based agencies. It’s important that K-12 be on a two-year cycle so that local schools can plan for their hiring and infrastructure needs out ahead.