Kansas lawmakers still working on budget

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Legislators returned to Topeka Monday to begin wrapping up the legislative session.

However, the fight over trying to draft a plan to balance the budget continues.

Lawmakers scrapped a plan Tuesday that would have raised income taxes for some Kansans and eliminated tax breaks for LLC’s.

Senate Republicans decided to not vote on the proposal from House and Senate negotiators.

Republican State Representative John Whitmer expressed his frustration on getting everyone on the same page to get a tax plan passed.

“You have Democrats, Liberal Republicans, you have more Moderate Republicans and then you have Conservative Republicans and how you balance a bill using those four groups, that’s the issue,” said Whitmer.

Whitmer says he believes the state needs to formulate a plan that looks at cutting spending, rather than raising taxes.

Democrats, like Representative Jim Ward, from Wichita, say we need to address adequately funding schools first.

“When you have a budget that is 50-percent K-12, you can’t really allocate funds for a budget until you know what you are going to spend on K-12 and that requires re-doing the school formula,” said Ward.

The state allocated 100 days to get everything done for this years legislative session, 10 more days than last year.

Tuesday marked the 78th day of this year’s session.

So with roughly three weeks left until they reach that 100 day mark, KSN asked both legislators if they thought they could get everything done by then.

“If you’re saying there is a lot of heavy lifting left to do in this legislative session, there is, it can be done, but we need all parties to come to the table in a reasonable way,” said Ward.

As for Republican lawmakers, like Whitmer, he says he believes lawmakers owe it to their constituents to stay for as long as it takes, in order to get the right kind of legislation passed.

“It is essential that we stay and get the job done and that we adequately balance our budget without raising taxes and if that takes extra time to do it then that’s what needs to be done,” said Whitmer.

KSN checked with the Kansas Legislative Research Department on how much it would cost, per day, if legislators stay past the 100 days.

KSN was told the daily rate is estimated at more than $63,000. However, that can be trimmed by reducing the number of session employees.

It’s important to remember, two years ago, the state spent about a million dollars when they went 23 days over their allocated 90-day legislative session.

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