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Kansas Legislature Prepares for Budget Battle

The budget, a new tax bill, and a plan for school finances were all items left on the table by the Kansas legislature before the beginning of a three-week recess. Some of the issues were blocked by vetoes, but others couldn’t get enough traction in either the House or the Senate to advance.

The budget could be the biggest of the unaddressed issues with the state of Kansas estimated to have over a $900 million shortfall over the next two years. State Senator Marci Francisco said there is an obvious need to quickly address the state budget.

“We need to raise, I would think, at least $400 million just to get by,” Francisco said. “But it’s more like $900 million to start paying [for] the services our citizens expect.”

A previous proposal for the state budget that also included a new taxation system originally passed through the House and Senate, but was later vetoed by Governor Sam Brownback. The House overrode the veto, but in the Senate there were not enough votes to override it.

While Democrats and Republicans generally have strong differences in terms of how money is spent, Francisco has sought to narrow the bridge between the two parties by working on a spreadsheet that analyzes where revenue is generated through taxation. She says that it’s helped bring the parties to more of an understanding.

“I think it’s been very helpful,” Francisco said. ” I’ve seen more support for, what I would think of, a more progressive tax plan.”

The state legislature is currently on recess until May 1. The House and Senate have until May 24 to agree on the state budget.