At a breakfast meeting Tuesday, local leaders implored legislators to "do us no harm" when they considered bills in the upcoming legislative session.
And, in response, legislators told them the upcoming session would probably be one of the more difficult ones in recent years. Among the reasons they cited: Lawrence's active opposition to the coal power plants in Holcomb.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment rejected the permits necessary to build the plants, angering western Kansas lawmakers.
"We will have fallout for the coal plan decision and there's no way around that," said Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence. "Some of our priorities may be put on the back burner."
Although it was not entirely unexpected, that wasn't good news for the leaders of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, the meeting's sponsor, the city of Lawrence, Douglas County, the Lawrence school district and Kansas University. Nonetheless, they still have ambitious legislative agendas.
Randy Weseman, Lawrence schools superintendent, said the district wasn't so much asking for money from the state - though that would be nice - as it was asking for the state to empower the district to generate more money on its own.
"We're really not pleased with the requirement of holding an election in order to increase the local option budget," he said.
The local option budget, based on property taxes levied in the community, accounts for about 30 percent of the district's budget. If the district wants to raise the portion of local support to the state maximum of 31 percent - an extra $750,000 - there must be an election.
Weseman also said Lawrence schools were beginning to see teacher shortages, which he expected to be much more dramatic in the next five to 10 years.
Both Bob Johnson, Douglas County commissioner, and Dave Corliss, Lawrence city manager, said their biggest priority for this legislative session would be finding a way to maintain existing levels of service without raising taxes.
"Because of the housing decline and lack of sales tax collection, the only way we're going to be able to get the revenue increases we projected is to increase taxes," Johnson said. "No one wants to do that."
Corliss echoed that comment and said the best thing the state could do was not take local taxing authority away from the cities and counties and not pass along any unfunded mandates to governments in an effort to cut state spending.
KU presented a legislative agenda that has already been fleshed out. In addition to more money for deferred maintenance and the increase in the general higher education block grant, Kathy Damron, KU's main lobbyist in Topeka, touted the expansion of the School of Pharmacy in Lawrence and Wichita as a major goal.
State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, said she expected that the expansion in Wichita, as well as Lawrence, would give that project a strong chance of success despite a tight budget.
Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said he thought one of the most important activities of the upcoming legislative session would be laying the foundation for a new comprehensive transportation plan in 2009.
"We're going to talk about (that) plan, and it is going to require a significant tax increase," Sloan said.