The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 14, 2001 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

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Salina, Kansas
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Saturday, April 14, 2001
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Page 1
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New t()W0r PAGE B1 T STATE BUDGET More bad news Revenue estimates for transportation program reduced By JOHN HANNA The Associated Press TOPEKA — The state received more bad budget news Friday, this time from its secretary of transportation. Secretary Dean Carlson said new revenue estimates for the state's comprehensive transportation program have been reduced by $224 million over the program's lifetime, which continues into 2009. Carlson said the declining revenues mean his department may not be able to complete all of the projects he and legislators contemplated when they approved the $13.9 billion, 10- year program in 1999. "Further cuts in expected revenue would almost guarantee that the program as passed by the Legislature will not be completed," he said. With the news growing worse, legislators continued to look for budgeting solutions — including higher estate taxes — and stepped up collection of delinquent taxes. Budget Director Duane Goossen said Thursday that Gov. Bill Graves and his staff are mulling over proposals to add to the Departihent of Revenue's staff so it can increase tax collections. Legislators said they expect Graves to make such a proposal — and lawmakers to approve it. Democratic leaders continued to work on a proposal to rewrite estate tax laws which would undo cuts made in 1998. Republicans disagree on the merit of the idea. GOP leaders remained divided on increasing taxes generally In the Senate, they haven't endorsed any specific plans but have said all options are on the table. In' the House, they've stuck to their belief that a tax increase won't pass. Carlson's announcement is significant because the state's budget problems had created speculation that legislators would reduce sales tax revenues set aside for the transportation program. The revenue estimates legislators received last week reduced the projected sales tax revenues for the transportation program by $119 million during its lifetime. New estimates made this week also reduced projections for vehicle registration fees and gasoline and diesel fuels taxes, by another $105 million. the SATURDAY APRIL 14, 2001 SALINA, KANSAS Salina Journal Serving Kansas since 1871 50 cents Another defeat PAGE D1 Debt finally forced Gene BIttel, Ellis, to quit farming full time and take a job selling pharmaceuticals. He still lives on his homestead. Photos by The Associated Press. Gene Bittel is silhouetted against JJie setting sun Sunday as he drives his tractor on his farm near Ellis. Bittel farms only on weekends now. Debt, depressed prices decaying farms 1,000 farmers quit farming in 2000, most since 1996 By ROXANA HEGEMAN The Associated Press ELLIS — At age 43, Kansas farmer Gene Bittel dusted off his old college diploma in economics and went out on his first job interview. He'd been farming his third-generation northwest Kansas farm since he was big enough to reach the pedals on the tractor. But he was deeply in debt. The market outlook for his crops was grim, and government payments were not nearly enough. His marriage was falling apart. Bittel realized that without a drastic change, he would lose it all. It was time to quit farming. "It wasn't a hard decision to make," he said. Two years later, Bittel is a successful pharmaceutical salesman making a good income. He has health insurance, a company car and vacation. His only investment is five business suits. Bittel is not the only beleaguered Kansas farmer that has had enough. Last year, the number of Kansas farmers dropped from 65,000 to 64,000, according to Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service. It was the first major downturn since 1996. Most of those getting out sold to bigger farm operations. Decline of the Kansas farm Number of Kansas farms Year 'QO '99 '98 '97 '96 '95 '94 '93 '92 '91 '90 '80 '70 See FARMING, Page A4 Source: Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service RICHAE MORROW / The Salina Journal T TRAFFIC DEATH Victim's name released By KARA RHODES The Salina Journal The child who died Thursday when he fell out of the back seat of a car his mother was driving was identified Friday by Salina police as Jonathan Felguerez, 3. The boy fell into the path of the left rear wheel as his mother^ Rosa Felguerez, 25, 662 Duvall, was turning from Duvall Avenue onto Crawford Street. Rosa Fulguerez's family declined to comment. Salina Police Department Lt. Mike Sweeney said the boy fell after the car's left door swung open. None of the three other children in the back seat — ages 1,2 and 5 — were injured. Also in the vehicle was Imelda Martinez, 19, who sat in the front seat, next to Felguerez. The two younger children share a Gypsum addr^s with Martinez, and the 5-year-oId lives at 662 Duvall. Sweeney said there were no car seats for the youngest three children, as required by state law for children under age 4. Police are investigating whether any of the children were restrained by seat belts, which are required for children ages 4 to 14. The reason behind that law are the statistics, said Kim Stich, a Kansas Department of Transportation spokeswoman. Of the 18 children ages 4 to 14 killed on Kansas roads in 1999, only five were wearing seat belts. "Using a seat belt isn't a sure thing, but it sure raises the odds," Stich said. • Reporter Kara Rhodes can be reached at 823-6464, Ext. 167, or by e-mail at sjkrhodes@saljournal.com. • FUEL PRICES Gasoline prices going up But some Salinans say higher summer prices won't stop travel plans By TANA THOMSON The Salina Journal Salinan Loren Bloomgren hopes to travel this summer despite the anticipated higher gasoline prices. "We'll probably still travel," Bloomgren said Friday afternoon as he gassed up his van — at $1.56 a gallon — at the Green Lantern convenience store, 215 W. Crawford. "We'll just have to bite the bullet a little bit," he said. Higher gasoline costs to retailers and the anticipation of increased summertime driving have pumped an increase in the price of gasoline over the past week that is just "no fun," said Eli Stephens, director of operations at Green Lantern. In the past week, gasoline prices spurted from about $1.44 to $1.56 at the Green Lantern store at 1100 E. Iron. At the Corner Store, 842 N. Santa Fe, prices went from about $1.43 a week ago to $1.53 Friday afternoon. Bloomgren, who has a van and a recently purchased RV, said he isn't surprised gas prices have risen, given the talk he's heard about supply shortages. "I'm not sure it's as bad as they say it is," he said with a smile. Stephens said low gasoline stocks have left gas stations and consumers at the mercy of a supply-and-demand imbalance that could be vicious this summer. Stephens said the price at the pump jumps by about 10 cents at the beginning of every summer, but he didn't want to guess on what Salinans might be facing this summer. "It's really hard to figure," he said. "... It's always a surprise." Higher gasoline prices don't benefit the retailers, he said. "We typically end up making less money when the prices are higher," Stephens said. For example, he said, the higher prices lead to an increased use of credit cards, and that costs stations more money because credit card companies charge retailers fees based on the amount of purchases. See FUEL, Page A4 WEATHER High: 72 Low: 52 Mostly cloudy vnth a chahce of showers; chance of rain tonight. PAGE A2 The crew of a downed U.S. spy plane frantically destroyed classified material for 15 minutes after landing at a Chinese military airfield. TOMORROW It's a temporary solution that's lasted for 46 years. The congregation at Culver Presbyterian Church is thrilled to have Helen Dent as pastor. INSIDE Classified / CI Comics / B6 Deaths / B3 Families / A6 Great Plains / B1 Money / D5 Religion / 84 Sports / D1 Weather / A5 Viewpoints / A7

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