A few quick hits about what’s driving the debate in the Legislature.
“The real story is, see, Republicans can govern.”
That’s what Wichita Republican Rep. Steve Brunk said while noting that, despite some political gridlock, the Legislature is still on track to complete its work as fast or faster than in prior years. Republican leaders earlier had said that with powerful majorities, they could complete their work and find agreement on taxes and budget within 80 days. That didn’t happen. Frustration is now mounting, but the scheduled end — 90 days — doesn’t arrive until Thursday.
That’s how many votes will be needed to get a tax plan through the House, which is at odds with the Senate and Gov. Sam Brownback over tax proposals. Some House Republican leaders say they have enough votes for a compromise on the primary sticking point – whether to extend a six-tenths of a cent sales tax. But Senate Republicans doubt it and haven’t agreed to compromise.
An ongoing battle between lawmakers and the judicial system seems to be heating up. Last week, Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss leveled a complaint against Independence Republican Sen. Jeff King for reportedly pressuring district court judges to endorse changes in how Supreme Court judges are selected by “suggesting a link” between that proposal and pay increases for court employees. King denied it. The flareup follows introduction of several proposed changes to the judicial system and comes as the court prepares to decide on a massive school finance case this fall.
All eyes are on tax and budget negotiations. It’s really the only thing stopping lawmakers from adjourning and going home to their businesses, jobs and families. But how those issues are resolved could have long-lasting consequences for the state and its politicians.