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The high court ruled in March that public school funding in Kansas was constitutionally inadequate and that more money must be put into the system.The bill that lawmakers passed provides $284 million in new money over the next two years, including $184 million for the upcoming fiscal year.
But when the conference committee report arrived on the House floor for a final vote it didn’t include the money, touching off a skirmish that for a while threatened passage of the budget.It also includes approximately $30 million for state employees, who haven’t had an across-the-board pay increase since 2008.Employees who have worked for the state for five or more years will get a 5 percent bump.The $1.2 billion tax increase passed over Brownback’s objections raises individual income tax rates and restores a third tax bracket eliminated by the 2012 bill.It also repeals a controversial tax exemption given to more than 300,000 business owners and farmers.“It was a very collegial process and collaborative process that brought us to this point,” said Democratic Sen. Still, conservatives fought the tax and spending increases to the end. Dennis Pyle, of rural Hiawatha, compared his colleagues to city-dwellers who have never lived on a farm and don’t know where their food comes from. “Instead, the way we balanced the budget, the way this body balanced the budget in the last four years, was by stealing from KPERS, stealing from KDOT, stealing from fee funds, stealing from the water fund, and I could go on.” Final day drama A last-minute dispute threatened to derail the collegial feel and the budget deal Saturday.
“What we’re doing is fleecing our constituents on the false premise that it must be done,” said Sen. “Sometimes I wonder if legislators don’t understand where the dollars come from,” he said. Small businesses.” Senator Carolyn Mc Ginn, the Sedgwick Republican who led the budget-crafting process in her chamber, shot back at accusations of wasteful spending, charging that conservatives resorted to budget tricks to balance the budget when they controlled the Legislature. At the urging of the chamber’s Democrats, the House budget plan included $17,600 to repay an 84-year-old woman for cash seized by the Kansas Highway Patrol in 1995 when they searched her car for what they suspected was illegal drug money.
Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning voted in 2012 for the cuts, hoping they would provide the Kansas economy with the shot of adrenaline that Brownback promised.
But weary of perennial budget struggles, Denning said before the override vote that the time had come to admit the cuts hadn’t worked as advertised. That’s what I’m doing now,” said Denning, an Overland Park Republican.
Others, including all employees in the state’s court systems, will get a 2.5 percent increase.
“Even though state employees and judicial employees may not be thrilled with the level of the raise they’re getting, it’s the first time I’ve been able to vote for a raise for them for quite some time,” said Republican Sen. “I hope it’s the beginning of restoration of several things.” The budget plan authorizes state general fund spending of $6.4 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1 and $6.3 billion the following year.
The woman, Barbara Reese, who was never charged with a crime, insisted she earned the money selling used cars.