Sebelius, House Republicans spar over state budget

? Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Monday criticized House Republican leaders, saying they are delaying debate on proposed budget cuts.

“Every delay in this process increases the uncertainty for the Kansans affected by these budget proposals,” said Sebelius, a Democrat.

As the state revenue picture worsens, lawmakers face a projected $186 million deficit in the current fiscal year, which could grow to nearly $1 billion in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Last week, the Senate approved a bi-partisan approach to mending the current year budget, while Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee on Friday approved a measure that seeks deeper cuts to public schools.

On Monday, House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, responded to Sebelius’ criticism, saying the House is acting quickly, adding that the Appropriations Committee put together its bill in one day.

“The House took one day to put their bill out after it came over from the Senate. I don’t know how you can do any better than what the House has done,” O’Neal said.

House rules require a 48-hour period from the time the bill is printed before it can be debated, he said.

He said he didn’t order the bill to be printed over the weekend to save on overtime.

O’Neal also repeated his assertion that Sebelius should have enacted across-the-board budget cuts before the Legislature started its session on Jan. 12.

Sebelius has instead favored more targeted budget cuts, saying that the deeper across-the-board cuts sought by Republican legislative leaders would have been harmful to necessary programs.

She said the continued legislative deliberations on the current fiscal year budget “stalls work on the more difficult task that lies ahead, dealing with the 2010 budget.”