Topeka There was a lot of maneuvering on the state budget Monday but no progress as the 2011 session entered its final days.
House and Senate leaders remained far apart, and Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, issued a statement, prodding the GOP-dominated Legislature.
“There still is important work to accomplish but state lawmakers can and should complete their work within the 90-day session,” Brownback said.
The 90th day is Thursday, although the Legislature can exceed that time limit. The Senate Ways and Means Committee recommended approval of a bill that would cut off legislative pay on Thursday.
“If we are still here, we will be working for free,” said Chairwoman Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick.
Legislators make $88.66 per day during the session and $123 per day for expenses. Legislative leaders make more.
House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, described the proposal as “window dressing” because, he said, it couldn't be implemented in time. O'Neal said if the session goes beyond Thursday, he would urge legislators to voluntarily give up their pay.
But during the Ways and Means Committee meeting, legislative staff members said the legislative administration department could hold paychecks if it appeared the bill was going to become law.
McGinn, the lead budget negotiator for the Senate, expressed frustration with House budget negotiators at a short meeting earlier in the day.
House Republican leaders want more budget cuts in education and social services to produce a larger ending balance in the budget.
“The ending balance is important to us,” said state Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, who is chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
But senators have rejected some of those proposed House cuts.
Under either House or Senate budget proposal, base state aid to schools will fall to its lowest level in a decade, forcing many school districts to layoff teachers and employees.
The Ways and Means Committee approved another budget plan that includes some of the areas of agreement between the House and Senate.
McGinn said the bill could be used as an alternative if the House-Senate budget conference committee makes no progress.
“I think this is a plan we all can go home with, knowing we made significant spending cuts without jeopardizing our state's long-term economic recovery,” McGinn said.
Some saw the alternative plan as a maneuver by the Senate to get concessions from the House on the budget.