Senate Concurs in House School Finance Fix; Budget & Taxes Still Under Discussion

Apr 30, 2018 by

The Fix is In!

The Senate this afternoon took up Sub for SB 61 the school finance fix bill that restores the missing $80 million that had been intended in SB 423.

The House drafted the bill in a special Appropriations Committee meeting on Friday night the debated it, advanced it, and passed it on final action on Saturday.

The Senate took up the matter after 2:00 today and with relatively little discussion or debate, passed the bill on emergency final action on a vote of 31 to 8 with one Senator passing. Click here to see how your Senator voted.

The bill now goes to the Governor and he has indicated that he will happily sign it, moving the decision on school finance adequacy to the Supreme Court. This action means what was intended in SB 423 is not actually what has been passed.

Senate Adopts a Budget; Negotiations Have Begun on Both Budget and Taxes

Also today the Senate adopted their budget in Sub for Sub HB 2359 on a vote of 28 to 12. This action puts two competing budgets into conference and the conference committee met this afternoon and evening to begin negotiations. This is an arduous process since the budgets are enormous and 14 pages of conflicting positions are being discussed. There will be a lot of back and forth offers until a comprehensive package of some House positions, some Senate positions, and some compromise positions are put into a conference committee report for consideration by both chambers.

At the same time, the tax conference committee is working out compromise positions on a number of bills. The big issue there will be what to do about Sub for HB 2228, the Senate’s massive tax cut package that, if passed, puts the whole budget being worked out by a different committee in jeopardy.

Negotiations on the Budget continue tomorrow at 10:00 am; tax negotiators meet again tomorrow beginning at 10:30. It will likely be a very long day!

read more

Related Posts

Share This

House Handles Budget and School Finance Fix

Apr 28, 2018 by

House Budget Bill Passes with Minimal Changes

The House this morning passed HB 2365 on a final action vote of 92 to 24. Debate on the budget lasted into the night yesterday with many amendments offered and most defeated.

The most significant amendment offered by Rep. Steven Becker (R-Buhler) was one to strip out the language added in Committee by Rep. Brenda Landwehr (R-Wichita) that would have lapsed all new spending added by the Committee if the Supreme Court were to rule against the State in the school finance case. Landwehr’s amendment had come to be known as the “trip-wire.”

The debate on removing the trip-wire was vigorous and in the end, the Becker amendment was adopted on a vote of  71 to 53. KNEA supported the Becker amendment.

Other interesting amendments and their results were:

Motion by Rep. Whipple (D-Wichita) to prohibit non-disclosure agreements signed by state employees to silence those employees in cases of sexual harassment and/or abuse. Adopted 100 to 12.

Motion by Rep. Jennings (R-Lakin) to prohibit taxpayer funds from being spent on defense or fines for any state-wide elected official found in contempt of court (can you say Kris Kobach?). Adopted 103 to 16.

Motion by Rep. Holscher (D-Olathe) to prohibit taxpayer funds from being used for penalties or settlements of sexual harassment claims and prohibit making such claims secret except at the request of the victim. Adopted on a voice vote.

Motion by Rep. Clayton (R-Overland Park) on legislative transparency would have required names on bills. Objections and challenges came from Rep. Schwab (R-Olathe) first on germaneness (it was ruled germane) and then as not allowed under the rules. The Rules Committee determined that the amendment was out of order because changes to rules have to be done through resolutions.

Motion by Rep. Parker (D-Overland Park) to expand Medicaid. It was challenged on germaneness but found to be germane. Failed 56 to 66.

Motion by Rep. Whitmer (R-Wichita) to strip $45 million out of K-12 funding (the money he says KSDE spent illegally) and transfer it to higher ed. The amendment would also freeze tuition. The motion failed.

A motion by Rep. Garber (R-Sabetha) to stop state money from going to any city or county in Kansas that adopts a resolution or law contrary to federal law (can you say “sanctuary cities?”). Under questioning, it became clear Garber had no real understanding of the extent of his amendment. For example, if a city adopted a gun resolution that was more liberal on gun ownership than federal law, the state could not provide any funding. Failed 28 to 69.

The bill was advanced on a voice vote with the final action vote this morning.

School Finance Fix

Last night, once the budget was done and the House went home, the Appropriations Committee met and moved the contents of HB 2796 into SB 61, creating Sub for SB 61 – the school finance $80 million fix. What it does is provide a mandate that every district levy a 15% LOB (they all do now) and direct that the money raised be counted towards adequacy by the Court. It also removes the language that took $80 million out of what was believed to have been in SB 423. Sub for SB 61 is a simple fix of the problem discovered on April 9.

The bill was brought to the floor for debate this morning.

The first amendment was offered by Rep. Jerry Stogsdill (D-Prairie Village) and it was a big one. It would have stripped out the mandatory LOB language, added the “Trimmer amendment” that increases BASE aid, added the “Pittman amendment” that brings special education funding up to the statutory 92% reimbursement, ends the cap on bond and interest and adds funding for parents as teachers and the ABC therapy program (two programs wanted by the Senate).

The amendment was challenged on germaneness because Sub for SB 61 is a simple policy fix and the amendment is an appropriation. After a long delay, the challenge was withdrawn and the debate on the Stogsdill amendment went on.

In the end, the Stogsdill amendment was defeated by a vote of 42 to 78.

The next amendment came from Rep. Sydney Carlin (D-Manhattan). This one would just repeal the cap on bond and interest; it was one part of the prior amendment. The amendment failed on a vote of 53 to 66.

Rep. Jeff Pittman (D-Leavenworth) offered an amendment to increase special education aid from 84% as in SB 423 to 85% – an additional $6 million. This amendment failed on a vote of 49 to 68.

Rep. Jarrod Ousley (D-Merriam) offered an amendment to allow other districts to enter the mental health pilot program and expand cooperative opportunities. The original Landwehr amendment specified which districts could participate. Ousley’s amendment carefully kept the Landwehr amendment intact but would merely allow the State Board to choose other districts that could participate. Landwehr opposed the Ousley amendment. The amendment failed on a vote of 43 to 77.

Rep. Kristey Williams (R-Augusta) offered an amendment to mandate a 2.5% pay raise for all teachers. It was ruled not germane because you can’t put an appropriation proviso in a policy bill.

Rep. Melissa Rooker (R-Fairway) offered an amendment stripping out the requirement that a certain percentage of LOB dollars must be directed to the at-risk and bilingual programs based on the percentage of students in those programs. Districts should be able to decide how best to expend the dollars they get to serve their students. Rooker believes the requirement is a likely violation of equity.

Williams opposed the Rooker amendment because 248 school districts have LOB authority they are not using including her own district. They have taxing authority they are not using – they should look at their own effort and if they need money, they should go to 33%.

The Rooker amendment, the last amendment of the day, failed on a vote of 54 to 64.

In the end, not one amendment was adopted and Chairman Fred Patton (R-Topeka) who argued for a “clean fix” bill with no amendments got exactly what he wanted.

The bill was advanced on a voice vote.

Later, on emergency final action, the bill was passed on a vote of 92 to 27.

 

read more

Budget and Taxes Moving? Maybe.

Jun 4, 2015 by

House passes a budget bill

It was a real surprise when the House adopted the conference committee report on SB 112, the budget that still needs $400 million in additional revenue to balance, without any discussion.

Chairman Ryckman explained the bill and Speaker Pro Tem Peggy Mast asked if there was discussion and then quickly announced that seeing no one, Ryckman could close on his motion to adopt the report.

The report was adopted on a vote of 64 to 48.

Democrats called foul, noting that Rep. Sharon Schwartz (R-Washington) had her light on, an indication that she wanted to speak, but was not recognized. Democrats had planned to speak at length about their concerns.

The report now goes to the Senate for their consideration. That is likely to happen today. If the Senate also adopts the report, it goes to the Governor. Of course, they can vote it down and then consider HB 2135, the budget that balances by cutting 5.7% from all agencies. This would be a $181 million cut to K-12 education.

Tax Conference Committee Meeting

With the passage of SB 270 in the House and HB 2109 in the Senate, there are now two tax bills in conference. The. Only similarity is that they both contain the tax amnesty plan.

The House bill (SB 270) also contains:

  • The restoration of a property development tax credit,
  • The repeal of the sunset on rural opportunity zones,
  • Permission to raise local sales taxes in three counties, and
  • A fire district property tax clarification.

The Senate plan (HB 2109) also contains:

  • The Christmas tree farmer tax break,
  • SSN required for tax credits,
  • Repeal the alumni association property tax exemption,
  • Requiring KDOR to send motor vehicle registration letters,
  • Ending “double dipping” on sales tax exemptions,
  • Capping local property tax increases, and
  • Cutting the food sales tax to 5.7% on Jan. 1.

At the first conference committee meeting, House Chair Marvin Kleeb indicated that the House had some interest in the Senate positions but also concerns with the property tax cap. They agreed to meet again at 11:00 today.

read more