Stephen Koranda

Stephen is the statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio.

Stephen Koranda file photo

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.

Stephen Koranda file photo

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.

Stephen Koranda

Kansas House and Senate negotiators have reached a preliminary tax compromise to close a budget gap. It would raise the sales tax and cigarette taxes while reducing tax deductions.

The bill would raise around $430 million next fiscal year.

Republican Marvin Kleeb, House Tax Committee chairman, says he isn’t sure the bill will pass, but it’s a starting point.

“We need to have members get up and speak their mind and let us know where they stand, what they like and don’t like, so when we come back again we’re able to craft another solution to propose,” Kleeb says.

The Kansas House has approved a budget plan for the next two fiscal years--with no debate. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the chamber quickly approved the $6 billion spending plan.

This budget would not be balanced without around $400 million in tax increases, but House members decided to pass it while tax talks are ongoing.

The top budget writer in the chamber, Republican Ron Ryckman, says the lack of debate was a surprise to him.

Democrats in the Kansas House have introduced a bill that would prevent state employees from being furloughed next week. Thousands of state workers will be sent home without pay starting Sunday if the budget work drags on.

“We don’t want state employees to be held hostage during this debate, so I have drafted an appropriations bill preventing a government shutdown and preventing state employee furloughs,” says Democratic Rep. Jerry Henry, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Lawmakers are in the 104th day of the 2015 legislative session, making it the second-longest session in Kansas state history. Legislators are looking for more than $400 million to close the state’s budget gap.

KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports on how the last several days have played out in the Kansas Statehouse.