TOPEKA — A legislative “misunderstanding” that caused state payments to counties to drop a year earlier than expected has prompted a proposed policy change increasing payments under the Oil and Gas Depletion Trust Fund by $7.5 million this year.
The fund is used as a buffer against sudden drops in revenue when oil production decreases.
The cuts to nearly 70 counties was made a year too soon, according to the office of Gov. Sam Brownback. The change prompted a lawsuit to change the funding, an action Ellis County commissioners decided to join last fall.
“I understand the confusion and frustration by members of the Kansas House and counties in western Kansas,” Brownback said in a statement Tuesday. “This is why I have agreed to propose increasing the payments to counties.”
Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, was among the lawmakers pushing for the change.
“This fund is a very important safety net for the counties and I am pleased that we were able to work with Gov. Brownback to find a solution,” Hineman said. “It is important that the counties have funds set aside for the day when the wells finally begin to run out. This agreement ensures that money will be there for them.”
The change in reimbursement rates from the state to counties went from just more than 12 percent to 6 percent last year.