Kansas taxpayers save $30 million with early payment of 2 state debts

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Kansas taxpayers have saved more than $30 million in future interest payments by prepaying two state debts.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday, Sept. 20 that by paying off state debt on critical water storage ahead of schedule, her administration saved taxpayers more than $30 million. of dollars.

“I believe in fiscal responsibility, and by paying off reservoir debt early, millions of dollars can now be spent on things like lowering taxes, fully funding schools and investing in law enforcement. and infrastructure,” Governor Kelly said. “These payments also help ensure a reliable water supply for Kansas residents and businesses now and for years to come.”

Kelly noted that the administration accomplished the task through two water projects.

The first, the governor said, she signed in 2022 with Senate Bill 267 to include a payment of nearly $80 million in debt owed by the state to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for storage of oil. water supply in certain federal reservoirs in the Sunflower State. .

Kelly said the $80 million payment eliminated debt owed for Clinton Lake, Hillsdale Lake and Big Hill Lake and will also help pay off additional debt owed for Perry Lake and Milford Lake. She said the investment in storing the reservoir’s water supply will save the state about $27.6 million in interest payments that would have been made during the term of those contracts.

The second, Kelly said he recommended in his fiscal year 2022 budget, was agreed by the Legislature to pay $332.3 million in bond debt at the start – including the bond issued for the dredging project at the John Redmond Reservoir which restored the water supply capacity needed to operate the Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station. She said the state paid about $1.6 million each year against the debt.

By paying off the reservoir debt about 8 years ahead of schedule, Kelly said the state would save about $3.2 million in future interest payments.

“This prepayment reflects responsible financial judgment,” said Connie Owen, director of the Kansas Water Office. “Taxpayers will benefit from huge savings, as well as a more reliable water supply in the future.”

Kelly said his administration has led the way in making water protection a top priority for the Sunflower State.

In 2022, Kelly said she had fully funded the State Water Plan — a multi-agency effort to protect a reliable statewide water supply — for the first time in more than 14 years. She said Kansas water resources priorities that benefit from this investment include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Ogallala/High Plains Aquifer Agricultural Water Conservation Irrigation Technology and Education;
  • Water reuse and recovery projects for dairies and feedlots,
  • Local adoption of Local Improved Management Areas (LEMA) and Water Conservation Areas (WCA),
  • Financial assistance supporting the adoption of soil and water practices; and
  • Farmer-to-farmer education on soil health and other water conservation practices.

Also in 2022, Kelly said her administration released the first update to the Kansas water plan since 2009. She said the plan was developed by the Kansas Water Office and approved by the Kansas Water Authority from the contributions provided by local, state, federal and regional authorities. the partners.

Thanks to his administration’s efforts, Kelly said a water injection dredging demonstration project will now be able to begin at Lake Tuttle Creek to remove accumulated sediment that has reduced the storage capacity of the lake’s water supply. , which helps serve more than 800,000 Kansans.

The Governor said planning efforts for the latest event, in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers, are currently underway.

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Elaine R. Knight