Day 91

The same story repeats again. Last week, the Kansas Senate tried to pass the same tax reform bill, and was rebuffed. Annoyed, the Senate's Con leadership announced no further work until Monday (today) and then threatened once again to work long nights and weekends until the work is done. Meanwhile, the House did the people's work, albeit slowly, on the education finance bill.

And there you have it. Tune in next week, same bat channel.

In all seriousness, today marks the 91st day of the legislative session, of 100 they have budgeted. On the three biggest issues of the session, as we outlined back in January, there has been little actual progress. Let us recap and give a heads up on what might happen now.

School Funding

All the momentum on school funding has been carried by the House Committee on K-12 Education Budget. They heard but then ignored HB 2270, a bi-partisan, well researched, community backed plan, in favor of the "Chairman's bill", HB 2410. Over the last few weeks, that bill has been slowly amended and tweaked until it is better than it began, but there are still questionable aspects to it. The greatest of those is the amount it requires, now at $783 million over five years. As designed, it only asks for $170 million next year, and adds an additional $150 million each year after that (so $320 million over today in year two, $470 million over today in year 3, etc.) The fear is that successive legislatures might not honor the plan, as history has shown us with previous agreements.

It looks like this bill might get passed out of committee this week? We've said that very thing before, though. The floor vote will be interesting, as it may include amendments to reduce the time of the incremental funding to two years and to eliminate some of the more egregious aspects of policy included.

The endgame here is to get it in front of the Court as soon as possible for their review. If the Court does not approve, and already it has been made clear that HB 2410 is an all or nothing plan, the Court cannot strike only parts of it, they may either shut down schools or revert to the last constitutional plan, the old formula.

Tax Reform

After the House passed tax reform in February, then overrode Brownback's veto only to see it fail in the Senate, they have taken a step back to watch the Senate flounder on the issue. Since that vote, the Senate has tried several tax reform avenues, including an ill-fated flat tax, a lightly-camouflaged flat tax, and two attempts to pass essentially the same tax reform bill they rejected in February. But now, with little time left the session, some lawmakers feel the amount raised is not enough to cover expected shortfalls, to eliminate stealing from KDOT, and to answer the school finance ruling.

We see the possibility that this will come down to an unhappy compromise for all parties. But given the impasse with the Governor, we don't know what that will look like.

If nothing is done, we face the possibility of further cuts to state services, further risky borrowing, and further eroding of our state's promises to it's citizens.


The State is required by law to have a two year, balanced budget. But the Legislature does not need to provide it. They can send, and have in the past, an unbalanced budget to the Governor, forcing him to make cuts to balance it. There is a budget bill in the wings, passed by the Senate, and waiting in the House while the above issues are worked. It will likely have to be adjusted after education and tax issues are decided.

9 days/30 days/45 days

There are nine days left in the budgeted Legislative Session. It appears we may be going over. There are 45 days left before the June 30 deadline for school finance. There are 45 days before the next fiscal year, but budget issues would best be resolved in about thirty days, to account for paycheck lead times for July 1.

Be ready. As issues begin to come clear, we will be counting on you to let your legislators know how you feel about the final direction. 

In the meantime, stay tuned. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or follow live with our news feed.

Remember to do more than vote. Get informed. Get involved. Make a difference.

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