Stephen Koranda

Stephen is the statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio.

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.

Stephen Koranda file photo

The Kansas House is set to debate a budget agreement later today, but the plan the House will consider needs around $400 million in tax increases to balance.

House members had been waiting for a tax agreement, but over the last week several tax plans have faltered. The top budget writer in the Kansas House, Ron Ryckman, says passing a spending plan will help them avoid state employee furloughs.

Stephen Koranda file photo

The lead budget writer in the Kansas Senate has proposed creating a new budget option for lawmakers that includes additional spending cuts. Republican Sen. Ty Masterson has proposed a new budget option with an additional 6 percent cut to virtually all of state government.

Lawmakers are now 13 days into overtime. The Senate has failed to pass tax increases to close a budget gap for the fiscal year that's about to begin, so Masterson says it's time to put some budget-cutting options on the table.

Stephen Koranda file photo

The Kansas Senate rejected another tax proposal last night, wrapping up day 102 of the legislative session without a tax plan in place. The proposal would have raised sales and cigarette taxes, but also eliminated income taxes for some low-income Kansans. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, it was patterned after a proposal introduce by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Kansas Legislature

Governor Sam Brownback’s administration says the governor will veto any tax bills that include a roll-back of business income tax cuts. Brownback’s secretary of revenue made that announcement over the weekend. But Republican Representative Mark Hutton, from Wichita, says he’ll keep pushing for a change in business income tax rules.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Governor Sam Brownback’s administration says many state workers will be sent home without pay starting June 7th if Kansas lawmakers don’t pass a budget. KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports...

Brownback’s budget director Shawn Sullivan told a group of Senators at the Statehouse yesterday that the furloughs would happen unless a Kansas budget is in place by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.

“We don’t have authority to pay employees past June 6th without a budget giving us authority to do that,” Sullivan says.

Stephen Koranda file photo

The Kansas secretary of revenue says Republican Governor Sam Brownback will veto any attempts to roll back business income tax cuts. Secretary Nick Jordan told a group of senators yesterday that Brownback was opposed to any broad changes to business tax rules.

More than 300,000 business owners pay zero state income tax because of the 2012 tax cut, and some lawmakers want to look at amending that to help close a budget gap.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Terry Bruce believes the governor has shut the door on that issue for now.

The Kansas House had been planning to debate a tax bill Thursday, but dissatisfied members of the chamber were able to stop the debate before it even started. The bill failed to get the two-thirds vote needed to be brought up for debate. It appears conservative Republicans and a small number of Democrats were able to block the discussion.

House Republican Majority Leader Jene Vickrey says the bill will be back on the agenda Friday.