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Under the Dome - May 9, 2013

Another Education Conference Committee adopted, off to Governor

The Conference Committee Report on HB 2261 passed the House on a vote of 119-1. This report includes the fund flexibility allowing districts more ability to spend balances in various accounts; the bullying bill specifying that bullying policies include bullying of a student by another student, staff member, or parent and bullying of a staff member by another staff member, student, or parent; and the celebrate freedom week mandate requiring schools to grades K - 8 to drop everything for a week to teach the nation's founding documents and other aspects of American government and history.

This report was adopted by the Senate on April 4 so it will now go to the Governor for his signature.

Budget and Taxes - the big issues

Slow moving on the budget

While the budget negotiators are meeting, progress is slow. But that's not really cause for alarm (at least, not yet). It is not unusual for these negotiations to proceed slowly as the budget is a massive document and differences are painstakingly worked out over a number of meetings

Slower moving on taxes

The tax issue is not moving along. If you've been following the news the big items here are what to do about the sales tax and higher education funding.

The Governor - even though he campaigned for office blasting the last Democratic administration for pushing through a temporary sales tax increase - now wants that temporary tax made permanent. You see, thanks to his reckless income tax reduction bill of last year, there is not enough money in the state treasury to fund essential services including education and higher education.

The Senate is already on record supporting making the sales tax increase permanent but the House is - at least so far - not interested. A lot of those new House members campaigned against the sales tax increase and many of the veterans voted against it in the first place.

The two chambers have in their budgets significant cuts to post-secondary education - 2% in the Senate, 4% in the House. The Governor is now worried about these cuts and has been making appearances on college campuses in an attempt to get his House members to back making the sales tax increase permanent.

So with this tax impasse and the slow progress on the budget, it looks like the original intent of sticking to an 80 day legislative session won't be possible. The Kansas legislative session is set for 90 days but there have been efforts in recent years to get their work done early. We have yet to see what will happen this year.

Right now it appears they will meet tomorrow, go home for the weekend, and return on Monday. And the conventional wisdom about these wrap-up sessions is that if they come in on a Monday, they will stay all week.

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