What just happened?
In a surprise move that feels more than a little bitter, the Kansas Senate has adjourned today without working any of the bills we discussed previously.
Leadership announced that support for the bills wavered, and they don’t see any point in holding a vote. In addition, they threatened to hold no votes on any bills of any sort until the budget issue is resolved.
So what really happened?
As best we can tell, there were enough votes to take money from the investment fund (though we contend they need to take more) and enough votes to repeal the LLC exemption and raise income taxes (though we contend that is not enough). But there were not votes to cut public school funding, and without that piece, the leadership did not want to proceed.
To be clear, if they do not cut school funding, they will have to raise more money elsewhere, both for this immediate year (so, borrowing more from the investment fund, for example) and for future years (raising taxes more, or re-instating a third tax bracket, for example).
The leadership made some excuses about not wanting to run afoul of Governor Brownback’s veto, at which point Sen. Dinah Sykes (R) is reported to have said, “I don’t care about the Governor.”
So where do we stand?
The House could decide to proceed, bolstering their image from the last few years as the chamber that gets things done when the Senate can’t find the door with the lights on.
There was a, perhaps idealistic, request from Senate Dems to have a “non-leadership” caucus meeting with “any Republicans who want to come” (we are paraphrasing) to work out a plan. We are unsure how successful that might be.
The Kansas Supreme Court releases rulings every Friday, and as we do every Friday we will refresh the page ad nauseam until we see if they drop the proverbial skunk into the party with a ruling on school finance adequacy.
And the Senate leadership, well, they appear to have dug in. The bills will not go back to committee (at this point) to be re-worked, so as to give a chance for Senators to “change their minds.” Which is code for leadership trying to strong-arm (likely the new) Senators to their way of thinking. And the threat to work no other topic until budget is done stands. In addition, Sen. Longbine (R) threatened to begin work Monday on a bill that only contains cuts to close this year's budget gap, "in case it is needed."