TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas lawmakers are one step closer to passing a budget for the next two years and wrapping up the 2017 session. The House approved their budget proposal 99-23 after a nearly four hour debate Thursday afternoon. This was the first time in years that legislators were allowed to debate and offer amendments to the budget.
“We have a 125 people. Today was the first time for about 105 of those people to actually give voice to their communities,” said Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita).
Over a dozen amendments were offered to the over $15 billion spending bill, including amendments to hunting licenses, travel spending and prison worker salaries. Rep. Barbara Ballard (D-Lawrence) offered an amendment to allow an concealed carry exemption for college campuses, but it was ultimately deemed not relevant to the budget. Ballard complained that despite public hearings there was no a debate on the floor of the House.
“I would hope that if anyone in this chamber is proud of the position they hold, they would be more than willing,” said Ballard.
Negotiators for the House and Senate met Thursday night to begin drafting a final budget that will be voted on by both bodies. Lawmakers believe that could happen Friday, but could likely spill in to Saturday.