Archive for Saturday, June 1, 2013

Budget approved in House with minimum number of votes needed

June 1, 2013


— The Kansas House on Saturday approved a $14.5 billion budget despite concerns raised about cuts to higher education and the state prison system and placing those with developmental disabilities under KanCare.

The measure got the minimum required 63 votes after House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, kept the roll open for about 20 minutes and six Republicans switched from voting against the budget to voting for it. No Democrats voted for it.

Republican leaders said passage of the spending plan was needed to move the Legislature closer to ending the overtime session. They talked about working through the night to draw the 2013 session to an end.

"We do need to get out of here," Merrick said. Earlier, House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey, R-Louisburg, told rank-and-file members that they needed to approve the budget or state employees would face furloughs.

"We have a Republican House, Senate and governor and we need to get our work done," Vickrey said. "If we have bad results because of delays in our process … it has effects and those can affect all of us in the next year."

But state Rep. Nile Dillmore, D-Wichita, said leaders were trying to bully legislators into voting for a bad budget.

"The world will not end if we don't pass this budget today," Dillmore said.

The budget battle erupted on the 99th day of the legislative session, which was supposed to end at 90 days and Republican leaders had earlier said would be finished in 80 days.

One of the major budget disputes was over a plan by Gov. Sam Brownback to place the long-term care of those with developmental disabilities under KanCare, the state's new Medicaid program that is administered by for-profit companies

Thousands of parents of children with developmental disabilities have opposed that move, saying they believe the assistance their children receive will suffer under KanCare.

Advocates for those with developmental disabilities wanted to "carve out" long-term care services from KanCare, but leaders wouldn't allow that in the budget. A bipartisan parade of legislators called for the carve out.

On higher education, the proposed budget called for cutting higher education by nearly $50 million in state funds over two years. The plan included a 1.5 percent across-the-board cut for each of the next two years, and a cap on salary expenses.

Meanwhile, GOP leaders had agreed on a new plan to increase taxes by $777 million over five years.

Essentially, Brownback and GOP leaders want to decrease income tax rates, saying that will spur economic growth while increasing the sales tax and reducing deductions.

The proposal on Saturday would set the state sales tax at 6.15 percent. The current state sales tax rate of 6.3 percent was scheduled to fall to 5.7 percent July 1.

Over five years, the proposed measure would reduce itemized deductions by half, slash the standard deduction from $9,000 to $5,500 for head of household and $7,500 for married, filing jointly. It would reduce over five years the top income tax rate from 4.9 percent to 3.9 percent, and the bottom rate from 3 percent to 2.3 percent.


Lisa Medsker 4 years, 9 months ago

Do you find it entertaining when they actually follow through?

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

Well, there was a demonstration in Topeka, with over a thousand people attending.

Some of those were folks who work in the field as well as parents, etc.

My wife has worked with the DD population for about 30 years - as far as I know, none of the parents/families she knows thinks KanCare is a good idea, and they all think it's a bad one.

Do you have any examples of DD family members who think KanCare is a good, or even neutral thing?

chootspa 4 years, 9 months ago

Good to know that the senate values the concerns of people who think that Common Core is a communist plot more than they do the concerns of parents of the developmentally disabled.

rgh 4 years, 9 months ago

Kansas politics at its' finest. Republican leaders "persuading" lower ranking Republicans to change their vote for a promise of helping them get re-elected in their next term. 6 changed votes is a lot folks and that took a lot of promising and/or arm twisting.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 9 months ago

Headline should have been: Legislative session cut-off knows despite the face of it all

JayhawkFan1985 4 years, 9 months ago

To quote Pink Floyd...we don't need no education...

weeslicket 4 years, 9 months ago

from the article: "We do need to get out of here,"

"said the joker to the thief". r. dylan

weeslicket 4 years, 9 months ago

from the article: "The world will not end if we don't pass this budget today," Dillmore said

tomorrow, perhaps. but at least, not today.

weeslicket 4 years, 9 months ago

anyone else for a game of kansas yahtzee ??

(this is a voter only game)

Dan Eyler 4 years, 9 months ago

I would point out that it was a democrat governor who raised the sales tax rate to begin with. The rate in 2010 was 5.7% which was raised to 6.3% and signed into law by Democrat governor Mark Patterson. But now we are going to see the sales tax go from 6.3 percent down to 6.15 percent and that is a decrease. But the bottom line in all of this it was democrats who increased the sales tax and that is a fact. Democrats raised the tax that hits the poor the hardest and raised the tax when things couldn't have been worse in the economy. So who is looking out for the little guy? We are not going to get back to 5.7 but we are going to get back some and we are going to get our income taxes cut which will more than offset the sales tax. I hope Brownback signs the bill and we all get a break. The sales tax is an argument for another session.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 9 months ago

You have a very short, selective memory, faithful. In 2010, the legislature was facing a very big budget shortfall due to the lousy economy which would result in deep cuts to basic services to the social services and schools that are used by "the little guy" you are talking about. Even tho the anti-tax and Kansas Chamber were for gutting these services, back then a coalition of moderate republicans and democrats joined the governor and acted to raise the sales tax to preserve the basic services, and a social crisis was averted.

Enter Brownback, who has replaced the crisis caused by the Great Recession with a crisis in the tax receipts received caused by slashing income taxes. The basic services for schools and social services have been slashed even further, but even Brownback wants to preserve some appearance of fiscal responsibility by extending the sales tax a while longer to see if the income tax cuts will result in less revenues than expected. But thanks to his financed attack on moderates, they've been replaced with ideologically pure types who don't want any part of a coalition with other members of the republicans, let alone democrats, and we're sure to face fiscal shortfalls like no other time in our history. And the impact will play out on "the little guy's" back front and center while the rich big business folks will be sitting pretty. Our state's legacy of populism is spinning in its collective grave!

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