Topeka Budget negotiators said Wednesday they expect to resolve most of their differences over spending priorities in the 2013 Kansas budget by the Legislature's Friday deadline.
Completing the process on the $14 billion bill is central to ending the legislative session on time. Sessions in even-numbered years are limited to 90 days unless legislators vote to extend them.
"I'm always working to get us done in 90 days," said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Carolyn McGinn, a Sedgwick Republican.
House members finished work on their version of the budget late Tuesday, voting for increases in public schools and social services. The Senate approved a similar measure last week.
McGinn and her House counterpart said "80 percent to 85 percent" of each chamber's bills should be quickly settled. The main obstacle is differences over education policies.
House budget chairman Marc Rhoades, a Newton Republican, said the House is agreeable to boosting school spending but wants changes in policies related to teacher evaluations and other issues.
"There's no indication from the Senate if they are serious or not. I don't feel that they have compromised with us," Rhoades said. "It's in their court."
House members voted to add $25 million to base state aid for school districts and another $25 million to equalize supplemental aid to districts, taking all the money from the Kansas Department of Transportation budget. Senators approved boosting school spending by $50 million to base aid and $27 million in supplemental aid, but taking it all from the state's estimated $700 million in reserves.
Rhoades said the House would drop the thorny issue of taking from highway spending if the Senate agrees to the policy pieces. Those issues were being considered by another committee.
McGinn said as long as the House didn't change other agreements reached earlier in the session on budget priorities, the negotiations should be rather focused on education and preserving funds for the Kansas Water Plan.
Under House budget rules, members can only amend the spending bill by taking a like amount from another line item, a so-called pay-as-you-go system. That left members with few choices for moving money around.
"That's the unfortunate thing with pay-go process. You end up taking funding out without having a hearing on it and hurting other programs," she said.