Capitol update: Tax and budget bills unresolved as leg heads to veto session

In an effort to keep our readers better informed about the state government actions that impact our communities, we are featuring regular update columns from northeast Johnson County’s elected officials in the legislature: Rep. Barbara Bollier, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Melissa Rooker and Sen. Kay Wolf. Check back on Mondays to find out what’s been happening the past week in Topeka. Sen. Wolf submits this week’s update:

Kay Wolf

Last Friday marked the end of the regular legislative session also known as adjournment, or the “drop dead” date. We will return to Topeka May 8 for what is referred to as “veto session.”

During the break, legislative research and the KS Department of Revenue staff will review legislation we have passed and prepare for any last minute technical changes. The Governor will review all legislation and potentially veto measures with which he disagrees. Most times, upon our return we consider any potential vetoes and work a small number of exempt bills that for some reason were not worked during the regular session. However, this year is unusual as an agreement between the House and Senate could not be obtained in conference on the Tax or Budget bills. These are two of the most important bills of the session. By law, we cannot adjourn until a balanced budget has passed both chambers.

To date, 98 Senate bills have passed and 95 House bills have passed the Senate. There was an initiative by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate to be finished with our work in 80 days. However, this looks to be improbable now with the Budget and Tax bills needing to be resolved upon our return.

The Senate budget proposal is approximately $14 billion and cuts $70 million from the Governor’s budget proposed in January. The House budget cuts about $30 million more than the Senate. Each budget spends about $6 billion in State general funds and $8 billion in federal or other funding sources. The House budget makes significant cuts in higher education including a 10 percent cut for The University of Kansas Medical Center. Overall, the House proposal cuts higher education by just over $60 million. The Senate measure also reduces higher education funding but does so by reducing state appropriations by 2 percent or just more than $20 million. Regarding K-12 public education, the Senate budget raises current base state aid per pupil by $14 in FY 2014 to $3,852. The House budget retains the current BSAPP level of $3,838.

Of note in the Senate’s budget is language added that leaves open the possibility of Kansas taking a federal offer to expand Medicaid health care coverage, but only if the Legislature gives the Governor its approval.
Negotiations will continue on the budget and tax bill upon our return. The Governor has reminded legislators that in order to reach the level of funding provided for in his budget the full 6/10-cent sales tax extension will be required. The Senate has provided for this but the House has not.

I hope this information has been helpful. During the legislative session, I send a routine electronic newsletter outlining the work of the legislature. If you would like to receive please email kay@kansansforkay.com or kay.wolf@senate.ks.gov to be added. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or concerns.