Kansas budget remains unbalanced as lawmakers take holiday break

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Another day, another $43,000, and still no solution for the state’s $410 million shortfall.

The Kansas Legislature is in the fifth day of this extended session, which so far has cost taxpayers an extra $200,000.

The Senate was expected to debate their very first tax proposal of the session Thursday, but that’s been postponed until next week, which means the cost to taxpayers will only continue growing.

“I’ve been doing this for a long, time. This is my 23rd year and I’ve and seen this over and over, but it’s worse this year than I’ve ever seen it before,” said Sen. Les Donovan, (R) of Wichita.

He’s talking about the log jam in coming up with a budget, even with the Senate’s latest tax plan.

“I don’t sense that we’re very close to a compromise, and I think it’s going to take us a considerable amount of time to get there,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, (D) of Topeka.

It may not be surprising to hear that coming from a Democrat, but Republicans aren’t confident either.

“Nobody’s happy with anything right now,” said Sen. Donovan.

The tax proposal they’re considering would raise the state sales tax to 6.5 percent, freeze current business tax exemptions for two years, increase property taxes and various consumption taxes like cigarettes and gasoline.

“This plan balances, leaves us with an ending balance and if we would just step up and vote for it, of course i know that’s not going to happen, it would be a nice way to end the session,” said Sen. Donovan.

Donovan expects to see a number of amendments to the bill, but some say even that may not be enough to get a budget passed anytime soon.

“I think it’s going to be one of those things where you’re just going to wear people down will just give in and vote for something they really don’t like because they want to go home,” said Sen. Kelly.

For the time being both the House and Senate will adjourn for the holiday weekend.

That means four more days with no discussion of the budget and no solutions.

“I wish we would’ve finished our work in 90 days, that would have been the best case scenario, but we didn’t so we are where we are and I hope everyone comes back with a great attitude,” said Sen. Vicki Schmidt, (R) of Topeka.

No one will be paid over the holiday weekend because the legislature has formally adjourned, so KSNT News’ online tracker will stop until next Tuesday when they begin working again.

KSNT News has learned the legislature has $13 million dollars budgeted for operations at the Statehouse for the current fiscal year, and so far they’ve spent about $11.7 million of that.

If they end up working past June 23rd, that budget will be used up and lawmakers will start adding to the deficit.

Lawmakers will have to come to some kind of agreement by June 30th at the latest. The new budget has to be ready to go into effect July 1st.

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