Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Sen. King Won't Seek Re-Election

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Sen. King Won't Seek Re-Election

Article excerpt

A top GOP state senator said he won't seek re-election, an announcement coming on the heels of the approval of a budget deal he voted against because of concerns over setbacks to the state's pensions system.

Senate Vice President Jeff King voted against the legislation on Monday. During the vote, he condemned a new plan contained within the deal to further delay a nearly $100 million payment to KPERS.

In a lengthy statement Thursday, King, of Independence, said his 10 years in the Legislature was coming to an end and said the veto session had shown the "harm of putting politics over good government." He didn't directly reference the debate over KPERS, but cited disputes over tax breaks for businesses, which he wanted rolled back.

His no vote on the budget put him at odds with the rest of the chamber's top Republican leadership, as concern mounted that Kansas was, in at least a small way, headed in the wrong direction on its pension system after extensive efforts in the early years of Gov. Sam Brownback's administration to turn around the underfunded system.

The budget deal, which overall sets up Brownback to make fund transfers and cut state agency spending, contains a provision allowing a more than $90 million payment into KPERS to be delayed until June 2018. Brownback previously had been authorized to delay the payment until early during the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The extension eases the financial strain repayment would have put the state in during the next few months. The payment will be made at 8 percent interest when it is eventually due.

Kansas has turned around its pension system more than any other state in the nation, King said. The senator helped lead efforts to push down KPERS' unfunded liability during the past few years. Last year, the state issued $1 billion in bonds to further boost funding for the system. …

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