Topeka The Senate budget committee on Wednesday rejected Gov. Mark Parkinson’s recommended cut to the Legislature.
Parkinson’s budget director Duane Goossen said the effect of the Ways and Means Committee action, if put into law, would actually increase the Legislature’s budget while much of state government has been cut by 10 percent or more to deal with a record revenue crisis.
State Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said Parkinson’s proposal would have cut the Legislature’s budget by $2.2 million. Vratil recommended reducing that cut to $1.1 million. Goossen, however, described the recommended cut of $2.2 million as “lapsed funds,” which had been appropriated to the Legislature but weren’t spent.
Two committee members spoke against Vratil’s proposal, saying it would throw out of balance a long list of budget cuts.
“If we’re a Ways and Means Committee, we ought to do a balanced budget,” said state Sen. Mark Taddiken, R-Clifton.
State Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, agreed, saying, “If we are in a hole, do we want to keep digging?”
But the committee outvoted Kelly and Taddiken and reduced the cut.
Kelly said it was ironic that the committee earlier agreed to recommend cutting legislative franking privileges by 50 percent, which will save $125,000 on postage, but voted to increase the Legislature’s operating budget by $1.1 million over the governor’s recommendation.
Legislators face a $400 million revenue shortfall in the next fiscal year. The bill that the committee was considering attempts to close the books on the current fiscal year. The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration.