The House and Senate Budget Conference Committee met at noon to consider assembling three variations of the budget bill currently in HB 2135.
First a copy was made of HB 2135 and put into SB 112. HB 2135 would then be amended to cut 2% from all budgets except K-12, public safety, state hospitals, and debt service. This would save about $30 million.
A third budget would then be put into HB 2010, but this one would include a 6% across the board cut to all budgets except debt service. These deep cuts would provide for the needed $400 million to close the budget hole and leave a small ending balance.
So, in summary, if the House members agree, there would be three budget bills:
- SB 112; the budget as agreed to earlier,
- HB 2135; as agreed to earlier but including a 2% cut to all but K-12, public safety, state hospitals, and debt service, and
- HB 2010; as agreed to earlier but including a 6% cut across the board except debt service.
What’s the strategy here?
Conference committee reports in Senate bills are voted on first in the House. Those in House bills go first to the Senate.
This action would let the House vote on the base budget bill (SB 112). The Senate would have to vote on a bill balancing the budget with cuts only (HB 2010) or one with limited cuts (HB 2135).
This is a test of the resolve of Senators who have not agreed to tax bills brought forth by Senate leadership. They are saying, “Here’s what it looks like with no tax bill.”
Remember that there are at least four camps in the Legislature.
- Hard conservatives want only cuts and no taxes.
- Brownback conservatives want no taxes on business, no income tax, and higher “consumption” taxes (sales, cigarettes, liquor, gasoline).
- Moderates might accept some sales tax but want business back on the tax rolls.
- Democrats want the three-legged stool of income, sales, and property taxes and want businesses paying their fair share.
Throw into the mix the fact that Brownback has vowed to veto anything that reverses the tax exemptions for business.
The conference committee meets again at 3:00 to see if the House agrees.
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