The stalemate in the Kansas Legislature was a topic of comment at last night’s Unified Government Commission meeting.
“Everyone says we’ll be here past Memorial Day, and never in past history have we been here past Memorial Day,” remarked UG lobbyist Mike Taylor to the UG Commission, via a telephone call from Topeka.
Today that prediction came true as the House and Senate failed to compromise on the sales tax and decided to come back next Tuesday, after Memorial Day. Today was the 91st day of the session, which was expected to end in 80 days. The Senate passed a 6.3-cent sales tax bill today that was rejected by the House.
There was some progress reported later today, however, as Senate negotiators reportedly have agreed to come down to a 6.0-cent sales tax.
Taylor explained the House and Senate can’t agree on how much to cut the sales tax, plus some other budget issues.
That’s a bit perplexing to him, he explained, because Republicans control the House, Senate and governor’s office.
The groups have been fighting over a few tenths of a cent on the dollar.
The House, according to reports, wanted to return the sales tax to 5.7 cents per dollar, while the Senate and Brownback wanted to leave it around 6.3 cents, plus the Senate wanted to lower it to 4.9 cents on food.
Taylor said the governor earlier tried to get the two bodies to compromise and was willing to accept 6.1 percent.
Taylor explained the sales tax dispute ties into the budget because at 5.7 percent, it leaves a $280 million hole in the budget. That might make more cuts necessary.
Asked by Commissioner Mike Kane how a sales tax cut would affect Wyandotte County, Taylor said Wyandotte County could lose about $3 million in revenues from the tax on cars. The sponsor of the bill believed that an increase in sales would offset the loss.
Taylor also discussed other recent issues in the Legislature with the commission, including property taxes on equipment; a proposal to take funding out of the Department of Corrections budget that could affect community corrections here; a proposal that would have shifted funding from the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., to the KU Medical Center facility in Wichita; and a proposal that would have cut highway funding, possibly stopping the K-7 interchange project in Wyandotte County.
According to lobbying groups, every day the Legislature is in session past the deadline will cost the taxpayers at least $40,000 more.