Archive for Sunday, May 2, 2004

Lawmakers soundly reject school-finance plans

May 2, 2004

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— The Kansas House and Senate on Saturday trashed each other's school-finance plans and decided to try again Monday.

"We can't seem to get a majority on anything yet," House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, said.

A $155 million tax increase for schools failed 5-35 in the Senate, and just hours later, a $72 million no-tax plan failed in the House, 16-104.

Mays noted the percentage of failure was almost exactly the same in both votes.

Lawmakers completed the fourth day of a wrap-up session far apart on the major legislative challenge of the year.

State Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, who supports a tax increase for schools, said the Senate "has its head in the sand."

State Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, who also has voted for tax increases for schools, said the Senate plan provided "inadequate funding for schools, and a totally irresponsible funding mechanism."

The Senate plan would have delayed a $40 million payment to the state employees' retirement system, and scooped $32 million from the state's cash reserves.

But in the Senate, it was the majority who blasted the proposed tax increase in the House plan. The proposal would have increased the state sales tax by two-tenths of a cent, and added a 4.5 percent surcharge on individual income tax.

"This tax increase is intolerable," said state Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, who said it would hurt the economy and lead to job losses.

House and Senate negotiators will return Monday to try to come up with a plan for further consideration.

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