Kansas Budget Talks Resume With Much Work Remaining

By: Alicia Myers Email
By: Alicia Myers Email

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UPDATE: Monday, May 13, 2012

Legislators are returning to the Statehouse to finish work on the proposed $14 billion Kansas budget for 2013.

Monday is the 93rd day of the session and the 20th day of the wrap-up session, the longest in the state's history.

Three House and three Senate negotiators met Saturday but stuck to minor budget issues.

The budget calls for spending some $6 billion in state tax dollars and fees in the fiscal year beginning July 1, covering most government programs.

Negotiators are at odds over how to fund increases in public schools, including how much to boost spending and the source of that funding. They also disagree on spending on social services and money to defend the state in litigation over redistricting maps.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What should have been the final day for Kansas lawmakers this session, ended with business as usual Friday. Senators and representatives are now looking toward several more days of negotiations.

"We still have budget and redistricting. Those two have to be done," said Rep. Ed Trimmer, (D) Winfield.

Realigning new political districts seems to have both sides stuck in their ways.

"This year the house hasn't gone along with the senate map, and neither has the governor, and as a result, we've had some fights over that, and I think everything else is kind of taking a back seat to that issue," said Rep. Trimmer.

Balancing the budget is a difficult process every year. Republican Senator Les Donovan, of Wichita, says one of those reasons is because of funding that is designated for education.

"We spend 52 percent of every dollar on K-12 education. That's much, much higher than the average in the country. We believe in that. We know education's very important, as well as other things," said Donovan.

Lawmakers cannot agree on that. The most recent tax police the House sent to the governor, could cut about 40 percent out of the budget for education funding within the next five years.

That means lawmakers have several big decisions to make in a short amount of time. Some say time should have been better spent in the the allotted 90 days.

"It's a lot of work, but it's work we could have been doing all the way along," said Rep. Trimmer.

Lawmakers hope to end the session later this week. The absolute final day they can meet is June 1.


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