Statehouse Live: Brownback wants only Republicans to approve the budget
Topeka ? Gov. Sam Brownback urged his fellow Republicans to support the proposed $14 billion state budget that is coming up for a vote later tonight.
And Brownback said he didn’t want any Democratic votes. Reaching across the aisle for votes “is not the way you want to go,” Brownback said to the House GOP caucus.
“Show the state of Kansas that Republicans can govern and they can govern as a team,” he said. Republicans hold large majorities in the House and Senate.
The spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 would cut funding to schools, social services and numerous other areas.
Legislators started the 2011 session facing an estimated $500 million revenue shortfall.
Brownback said the budget represented the best that could be done under tough economic circumstances without raising taxes.
“I really, really urge your first-round vote for it,” he said to the Republican group. “I would plead with you to vote for this.”
He said the larger the margin of passage, the more the policies and funding in the budget will be accepted by the public.
And he said he’d like the session to end tonight, the final day of the scheduled 90-day session, without having to go into legislative overtime.
Meanwhile, Democrats, who are in the minority in both the House and Senate, blasted the proposal, saying it will lead to teacher layoffs, school closures and increased class sizes.
The bill would cut base state aid to schools by $232 per student, or 6 percent.
“As the economy recovers, there’s no reason to force these sweeping cuts,” said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka.
The proposal also cuts a pay plan to bring up the wages of state employees who are paid way below market value.
“By reneging on this promise, thousands of state employees who maintain our highways, provide our public safety and care for the disabled will continue earning far below their private sector counterparts,” Hensley said.