Topeka Negotiators in the Kansas House and Senate reached agreement Tuesday on a compromise bill to close a projected $281 million revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year's budget without making direct cuts to state agencies or programs.
The bill does, however, call for borrowing around $180 million from an idle funds investment account and repaying that over the next seven years. It also would delay a payment of approximately $150 million into the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.
The compromise bill now goes back to the floor of each chamber for a straight up-or-down vote.
The conference committee has been working for the last several days on what's often called the "rescission" bill, which makes adjustments to the spending plan for the current year that lawmakers approved during the 2016 session.
The biggest issue separating the two chambers concerned whether or not to repay an estimated $115 million into the KPERS fund next year, a payment that Gov. Sam Brownback delayed making in 2016.
The Senate had proposed making that payment in the new fiscal year that begins July 1, but House negotiators said they are not yet willing to make that commitment without knowing how much revenue the state will have to spend next year.
On Tuesday, both sides agreed to put that issue off until lawmakers return for the wrap-up session in May, by which time they will have new, updated revenue estimates.
Also looming in the background is the question of whether lawmakers can pass a tax bill this year with enough votes in both chambers to override a governor's veto.
Rep. Troy Waymaster, R-Bunker Hill, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said House leaders are waiting for the Senate to act on a tax plan because it was the Senate that failed to override Brownback's veto of an earlier tax bill that would have reversed course on many of the signature income tax cuts that Brownback championed in 2012.
The compromise bill also calls for making full payments into KPERS in each of the next two fiscal years. Brownback, in his budget plan, had proposed not making one quarterly payment in each of those two years.
Waymaster, however, said that may also be subject to negotiation later in the session, depending on what happens with the revenue estimates and a tax plan.