Clock is ticking on lawmakers getting a budget deal

Kansas Statehouse (KSN News)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – For many, this holiday weekend is all about BBQ, friends, family, and memorializing those who have passed. For a lot of lawmakers, it also meant work.

“A lot of texting, emails, and phone calls,” said Representative Chuck Weber, R – Wichita. “We want to figure this out as quickly as we can, and we know the clock is ticking but we also don’t feel pressure by the State Supreme Court or anyone else to do something we don’t want to do.”

Weber says he’s been talking to colleagues this weekend about a budget that remains in a roughly $900 million deficit.

“The House passed a bill last week, and I actually voted for this, and it would satisfy the Supreme Court,” says Weber.

Weber says the Supreme Court of Kansas has mandated lawmakers spend more money on K-12 education. But, he says, there remain questions about whether or not taxes will be added, or cuts will be made to the budget to make it all work.

Some Democrats say there remain many questions.

“We’ve got to come up with a tax plan that is digestible to everyone or at least the majority to vote for. That’s the big thing that we keep struggling with,” says Senator Oletha Faust-Gaudeau, D – Wichita. “The tax bill. And then, of course, there are some that say, ‘Well, I’m not going to vote on that until we do school finance,’ So, I think that they are equally important. And people back home, since the long break that I’ve had, people back home? Those two issues have been the major topics. And you know, we need to get this done.”

To get it done, lawmakers will likely need something that is veto-proof. Governor Sam Brownback vetoed the last plan that was passed.

His office released a statement last week that said the governor carefully considers all legislation that comes to his desk.

Getting the governor so sign it into law is another question for some lawmakers.

Weber says the Kansas Supreme Court mandate will have to be met. Schools will have to be adequately financed.

“We are going to satisfy the court. Where that goes and how it looks is an open question,” says Weber. “I’m in favor of transparency and accountability when it comes to spending more tax dollars, especially for education. I really think there’s some talk now in Topeka about showing taxpayers how much we spend on education.”

Education spending and taxes will be on the agenda, along with possible changes to gun laws when lawmakers get back to work on Tuesday. When will it get done?

“I’m hopeful we can have something by Friday,” says Weber.

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