By James Jordan
Kansas legislators could not beat the clock, or calendar, Thursday as they sought a budget deal that could end the session. Thursday was the 90th day of the session, which is all there is supposed to be. Earlier in the year lawmakers thought they could get done in 80, but they have been unable to reach an agreement on the budget. They will meet today and mayby next week. They were in session 99 days last year, also stuck on money issues.
Education standards also got involved when a move to not allow local districts to use state money for the Common Core Standards were added to the budget. It was finally dropped over questions as to whether it was legal to add that to the budget.
House Appropriations chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, removed the proposal from the budget, but it could come back as a separate bill.
Rep. Don Schroeder, R-Hesston, said Thursday, "I doubt a vote will be taken, but the saying around here is that nothing ever really dies in the legislative process."
Schroeder said has looked into the Common Core matter and found "nothing particularly onerous," in the standards.
While that was a side issue added late, the main issue continues to be taxation. A sales tax was supposed to expire in July, but Gov. Sam Brownback wants to continue the tax to help pay for the massive income tax cuts he got passed a year ago. He and his supporters are wanting more cuts this year and want to eventually do away with income tax altogether.
All that is legally required is for the legislature to pass a budget. They are considering a two-year budget, so they could come back next year and work on the revenue side. Large deficits are expected as a result of big income tax cuts.
State Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, said a deal is very close on the budget, and it could get done today.
She has opposed the big tax cuts as they cut into state funds and force the state to shift the burden onto local governments.
"We are all talking about doing more with less, reducing the size of government," she said. Yet, she pointed out that the leaders of the budget committees, one of which is Rhoades, have added a full time staff member this year.
Rhoades did not respond to a request for comment.
"How can you cut social programs, tell people you don't have money, and then appoint new staff members for yourself," McGinn said.
She was also bothered by the fact that social programs are being cut, but the state is sponsoring the Air Capital Golf Tournament.
McGinn also said the state had cut funding for the National Center for Aviation in Wichita, which is training people who are needed in the aerospace industry in Wichita.