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Opinion

Opinion

Legislative delays

The inability of state lawmakers to resolve key state issues in a timely fashion is even worse than usual this year.

April 3, 2012

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Kansans can only hope that state legislators come to their senses in the next three weeks and return to Topeka ready to deal with the many key issues they left unresolved when they left the Capitol last Friday.

Perhaps the most egregious piece of business left unfinished was passage of a supplemental budget bill. This is not the budget for the coming fiscal year; it is an appropriation to help address budget shortfalls for the current year. Passage of the bill on Friday should have been routine. A House-Senate conference committee had agreed on the terms, but when it came time to sign the committee report, members of the Kansas House rejected the measure based on how the supplemental funds for K-12 schools should be financed.

There was no disagreement about the amount of the $24.5 million appropriation, but the governor and the Senate wanted the money to come from the state general fund while the House wanted to take the money from state highway funds. Because of that relatively minor issue, legislators failed to pass the appropriations bill and will have to take it up again when they return to Topeka on April 25.

In the meantime, various state entities will have to figure out how to keep operating without the supplemental funds they needed. In addition to school districts, the appropriations bill also included money to offset shortfalls in docket fees to fund state court operations and income to operate state parks. Chief Justice Lawton Nuss has indicated that without the funding, court employees may be furloughed and courts closed for up to five days. The opening of state parks also may be delayed. The supplemental appropriations also would have addressed caseload increases for nursing homes and Medicaid along with other important services — all of which now are on hold for at least three weeks.

In addition, the Legislature’s delay in approving redistricting maps for the Kansas House and Senate and the U.S. House is pushing the state dangerously close to the June 1 filing deadline for legislative and congressional candidates. Those candidates can’t file for office or start their campaigns until they know for sure that they live in the district they hope to represent. One of the Senate’s last acts before leaving Topeka Friday was to vote down a congressional redistricting map that cut Topeka in two in order to keep Manhattan in the 2nd District.

The Kansas Legislature’s spring recess is supposed to come after most of the business of the session is done. The intent is for legislators to return in three weeks mostly to tie up loose ends and consider overriding any vetoes issued by the governor during the break. In recent years, it has become routine for the budget and several other key issues to be left until the “veto session,” but, this year, legislators have been unable to agree on just about anything — even the supplemental funding for the current year’s budget.

During the next three weeks, Kansans may have an opportunity to speak with some of their state representatives. If they do, they should let them know it’s time to step up to the responsibilities that go with the job they were elected to do.

Comments

JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 8 months ago

Maybe they should use the mega millions lottery windfall...

chootspa 2 years, 8 months ago

I believe that falls into next year's budget.

Michael LoBurgio 2 years, 8 months ago

Government cuts fuel Kansas job loss State count drops 5,700 in a month, among the worst in the country.

A month-to-month loss of 6,100 government jobs in Kansas and smaller losses in other industries were partly offset by employment gains in the manufacturing and the professional and business service sectors, the statistics bureau said.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/03/30/3525134/government-job-cuts-fuel-kansas.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy

WilburM 2 years, 8 months ago

"Who feel like they're being attacked...?" No, they are being attacked, every day, by the House GOP, the Governor and his staff, and the far right GOP senators. The Senate GOP caucus is a war zone.

texburgh 2 years, 8 months ago

"Kansans can only hope that VOTERS come to their senses in the next FOUR MONTHS and return to Topeka ONLY THOSE REPUBLICANS WHO PLEDGE SERVICE TO THE PEOPLE OF KANSAS AND NOT JUST THE KOCH BROTHERS AND THE KANSAS CHAMBER."

This article and the actions of Mike O'Neal and his anti-government, anti-education cronies in the House demonstrate all too clearly exactly what's going on in Topeka.

O'Neal's vitriolic hatred for public schools brings the state to near collapse - shuttering our court system for five days, delaying the opening of our state parks, and denying benefits to seniors and the disabled all because he doesn't want to fund schools. The Governor and the Senate want to take $24.5 million in required school funding out of a $500 million budget surplus while O'Neal demands the money be stolen from the highway program. And apparently the majority of House Republicans agree.

These Republicans are owned by the Kansas Chamber, Americans for Prosperity, and the Kansas Policy Institute, all of which are run by the Koch brothers via their various "foundations" and "charities." If you value schools, social services, smooth highways, public safety, and state parks - or if you just like having the turnpike plowed after a big snow - then vote them out of office. Replace them with moderate Republicans or Democrats; but vote them out of office.

chootspa 2 years, 8 months ago

The private school scholarship bill O'Neal introduced was ALEC model legislation.

chootspa 2 years, 8 months ago

Let the free market decide which politicians they'd like to buy.

Ann Gardner 2 years, 8 months ago

A member of our legislative delegation advises me that a clarification is needed about the process by which the supplemental appropriation got held up on Friday. The measure fell apart when House conferees refused to sign the committee report. It never made it to a vote of the full House.

somebodynew 2 years, 8 months ago

I have a quick solution for this problem in the future..... Don't pay them when they have to come back if there is legislation that is signicant which should have been handled in session.

Something tells me more might get done. Of course with this group I might want to be careful what I ask for. They might just screw it up more and more quickly.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

With Sam Brownback and associates in Topeka it may well be that elected officials not adjourn at all. Sam Brownback and his executive privilege can be costly to Kansas taxpayers.

Sam Brownback cannot be trusted and he will spend time getting rid of republicans who disagree with him and of course will wage political war with democrats. Sam Brownback is not a team player.

I say taxpayers would be money ahead with legislators staying in Topeka as long as Sam Brownback is governor.

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