Stephen Koranda

Stephen Koranda reports on the Kansas Legislature, state government and everything else for Kansas Public Radio. He previously worked in Mississippi and Iowa, where he covered stories ranging from hurricanes to state executions. 

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Lawmakers in the Kansas House were sharply divided over a tax bill debated last night. The measure seemed to be on its way to failure before the vote was paused at midnight by a legislative rule.

Republican Rep. Marvin Kleeb urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying it was likely their last option to avoid cuts to state services like K-12 education. They’ve already approved a budget, but it needs around $400 million in new revenue to balance.

A tax bill seemed to be headed for failure in the Kansas House last night when a legislative rule paused the debate. The vote was temporarily stopped at 86-29 against the bill. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, House members put in place a rule this year saying they can’t work past midnight.

The vote was being held open while members who were out of town were summoned back to the Statehouse. There was also last-minute lobbying happening in an attempt to sway lawmakers. But all that stopped at midnight and the vote will resume today.

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Tax negotiators from the Kansas House have presented a new agreement that they hope can pass the chamber and move the Legislature towards ending the 2015 session.

The proposal is close to a plan already approved by the Senate. It relies mostly on increasing the sales tax and eliminating tax deductions to balance the budget.

The House’s plan does adjust some controversial policy pieces in the Senate bill, including softening a cap on local property tax increases.

Stephen Koranda

The Kansas House and Senate have approved the budget for the coming two fiscal years. However, that plan needs around $400 million in tax increases, or budget cuts, to be balanced. The House and Senate haven’t been able to agree on a tax plan. There has been talk that lawmakers could leave town and force the governor to cut spending to balance the budget. KPR's Stephen Koranda reports.


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If Kansas lawmakers can’t reach a tax agreement soon, they could leave Topeka and let Gov. Sam Brownback make cuts to balance the budget. Both chambers have approved a budget, but have not agreed on a tax plan to fill a hole of around $400 million dollars.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Terry Bruce says the chance of lawmakers leaving the budget unbalanced increases if they haven’t reached a tax compromise in the next few days.

Stephen Koranda file photo

The Kansas House decided not to take up a tax bill yesterday that was sent to them by the state Senate. Lawmakers return for day 110 of the legislative session today, and the only item left on their plate is balancing the budget. KPR's Stephen Koranda reports.

Both chambers in the Kansas Legislature have now approved the budget, but the bill needs around $400 million in tax increases, or budget cuts, to be balanced. The Senate passed a tax plan on Sunday.

Stephen Koranda

Governor Sam Brownback says he supports a tax plan passed by the Kansas Senate and he’s now urging House members to approve the bill. Lawmakers have approved a budget but need to pass a tax bill to fund the budget before the session can end.

Brownback calls the tax plan passed by the Senate a good proposal.

“It’s been thoroughly discussed and it’s past time to get this done and move it forward. Yes, I will sign it,” Brownback says.

Stephen Koranda

With only hours remaining before furloughs started, Kansas lawmakers approved a bill that prevents state workers from being taken off the job. Governor Sam Brownback has signed the bill and says all state employees should report to work as usual.

While financial pressures still exist in state government, the bill deems all state employees “essential” and exempt from being furloughed. That designation only lasts through the end of the legislative session.

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The clock is ticking for thousands of state workers as they wait to see if Kansas lawmakers can pass a state budget. Non-essential state employees will be furloughed without pay beginning Sunday, if legislators haven’t finished work by then on a state budget.

Stephen Koranda file photo

A tax proposal failed last night in the Kansas House by a huge margin. Lawmakers still need to finish work on a budget and a tax plan that covers a shortfall in the budget. As KPR's Stephen Koranda reports, they'll keep working after the first tax plan failed on a 3-108 vote.