Kansas Legislature still working to prevent state employee furloughs

Kansas legislature in session. (KSN file photo)

TOPEKA, Kansas – With no budget deal in place– Kansas employees are now getting furlough notices.  If lawmakers don’t solve the state’s budget problems by Saturday night, the furloughs take effect at 12:01 Sunday morning.

The senate and house worked late Friday night, talking taxes to fill the $400 million hole in the Kansas budget.  Late Friday afternoon, the House voted to keep working after midnight.  And, that’s more pressure to get a deal done before furloughs start at midnight Saturday.

But, are furloughs really going to happen?

House and Senate leaders say they are close on solving the issue, and the only questions left are about fine-tuning numbers.

The tax breaks from 2012 will likely now change.  Businesses will pay taxes under the latest plan, but they will pay a very low amount under the compromise being discussed right now.

Also, the sales tax will go up, and there may be a cigarette tax of fifty cents per pack. All said and done, that likely will be enough of a compromise to get a deal done.

Still, some say the whole idea of furloughs is a moot point, because they call it a simple scare tactic to push for a vote.

“I think the senate was moving very slow yesterday on purpose,” said Representative Tom Sawyer of Wichita.  “Trying to get us closer to furloughs, trying to force a vote for something, I think that’s exactly what’s going on. They are playing with state employees lives to try to get their package passed.”

So legislators are working a plan, and will continue their work into the early morning hours on Saturday.

And the hope is to have something for a vote in both chambers Saturday to avoid furloughs.

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