Budget bill keeps Kansas governor involved in virus aid decisions

Topeka — The Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature backed off its effort to remove Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly from final decisions on how federal coronavirus relief funds are spent.

Budget legislation approved Friday includes a provision that gives top lawmakers more say but still allows Kelly to veto their proposals. Kansas expects to receive $4.8 billion from the last federal coronavirus relief package.

Kelly appointed a task force last year to recommend how relief funds should be spent, with the State Finance Council making final decisions. It is the governor and eight top lawmakers, six of them currently Republicans.

Kelly calls council meetings, sets the agenda and can veto what it approves. Top Republicans became frustrated with her.

Legislators last month approved a measure to leave final spending decisions to a different, Republican-dominated group of only legislative leaders. Kelly vetoed that plan, and the House overrode her action Monday in an 86-38 party-line vote.

But as GOP legislators negotiated with Kelly on other issues this week, they crafted a compromise and dropped it into budget legislation.

The Finance Council would make final decisions about how federal relief funds are spent, but a task force with four of seven members appointed by top lawmakers would have to approve spending first.


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