Late last night (or early this morning) the Kansas Legislature recessed, the business of the State of Kansas done. Or mostly done. Or rather, kicked down the road, and into the neighbor's yard.
With eighteen days left available in the session, the Legislative leadership twisted arms to ignore the "no laws made after midnight" rule and rush the last bit of politicking through the chambers. Why? What would make them work so hard, if they were not up against limit, burning extra taxpayer money like they did last year?
Well, this is an election year for every member of the Kansas Legislature, Representatives and Senators alike.
Today, the State Department of Revenue is supposed to release the results of April's revenue haul. The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) thought we'd lose some $90 million by the end of the fiscal year. The budget passed in the wee hours of the morning made a stab at accounting for that, but left most of the decisions in the hands of the Governor, who coincidentally, is not up for re-election this year.
So, the legislative leadership rammed through a budget that was "the best that we can do," according to Sen. Ty Masterson, because they don't want to face any additional bad news today.
That, as they say, is the Governor's problem.
In fact, the Legislature has left a number of things undone. The budget they just passed, for example, does not balance. The education finance "plan" they passed remains tenuous, and in the hands of the courts. The education adequacy ruling, possibly requiring on the order of $500 million more from the State, hangs in the balance. And next year's budget is floated on a hope and a prayer, with money "borrowed" this year from KPERS due next year and scheduled to be paid for with "rising revenues."
We will be hearing from these legislators about "the best they could do," and how we need to turn things around next year, and how it is definitely time to re-examine the Governor's tax plan, etc.
Remember a few months ago when we wrote about the "eighteen month plan?" How some legislators were talking about controversial proposals as taking eighteen months? That was code for, "after the election."
We have a six month plan.
In three months, on August 2nd, we get our first chance to vote. There are plenty of candidates lining up to confront sitting extremists in their own party. When the June 1 deadline for filing passes, we will list them.
Then in three more months, on November 8th, we get our second chance to vote. There will be plenty of chances then to vote the extremists a nice long vacation.
They can play politics all they want with late night votes and arm twisting bathroom breaks, backpedaling positions and bundled bill packages, postcard threats and gut and go shenanigans.
The people of Kansas will not play. They will exercise the ultimate in political power. They will vote.
Join us. Get your friends to join us. Make your family vote. It is time to step up and make a difference.