Just like in 2014, when legislators waited until past the midnight hour on the last nights of the session, when they added the repeal of due process rights for teachers and the first step in vouchers – corporate tuition tax credits – last night they decided to launch yet another attack on public schools, inserting an expansion of the corporate tax credit program into a new tax bill.
This was done about 7:00 pm in a conference committee by tax chairs Les Donovan (R-Wichita) and Marvin Kleeb (R-Lenexa). Donovan said this was very important to help the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. Yes, there he was, arguing the importance of using tax dollars to fund religious education.
It has been reported that this came about due to demands from extreme right Republicans. They apparently refuse to support a tax bill unless it harms public education.
The new tax bill, HB 2109, went on the floor of the Senate about 12:20 am last night. Much of the initial debate centered on the voucher program which Donovan had a difficult time explaining. Democrats Oletha Faust-Goudeau (Wichita) and Pat Pettey (Kansas City) peppered him with questions.
The debate went on for about an hour when the chair recognized Majority Leader Terry Bruce (R-Hutchinson) who told the Senate that there were some problems with the bill and that they would need to pause the debate, adjourn, and return in the morning. First, he told them, there would be a tax conference committee about 9:00 or 9:30 in the morning. The Senate then adjourned until 10:30.
All of this kept folks wondering if there were drafting errors or if it had been determined there were not enough votes to pass the bill.
Whatever the reason, the session convenes for the 107th day today.