Current federal government shutdown similar to 2009 showdown in Kansas

Topeka — Republicans refuse to vote for an almost routine provision to fund government unless a Democratic chief executive approves their demands.

Sound familiar?

That’s what happened in Kansas in 2009 between then-House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, and then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat.

Led by O’Neal, Republican legislative leaders, including then-Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, refused to agree to issue inter-governmental loans to make state payments for payroll, public schools, health and income tax refunds.

The Republicans said they would sign off on $225 million in what are called certificates of indebtedness, if Sebelius would sign into law deep budget cuts.

Republicans said they couldn’t approve the certificates because without approval of the budget rescission bill, the state ledger would be out of balance. Sebelius said that was nonsense because the state’s budget problems and cash-flow situation were unrelated.

Democrats said the move by Republicans amounted to blackmail and made thousands of state employees worry about getting paid.

But Sebelius ended up signing the rescission bill, although she applied several line item vetoes, including a veto of a $32 million cut in state aid to public schools.

About the same time this drama was occurring in the Statehouse, reports were coming out of Washington, D.C., that Sebelius was President Obama’s choice for Health and Human Services secretary. She was confirmed secretary about two months later.