The Legislature has only enough money to keep working another week, the top Senate Republican said Thursday.
Legislative leaders budgeted for a 100-day session this year – a mark passed on Wednesday. They adjourned Thursday for a four-day holiday weekend, during which they won’t be paid.
“We’re out of money to run the Legislature,” said Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita.
Keeping the Legislature up and running takes between $43,000 and $46,000 a day, said Tom Day, director of Legislative Administrative Services. Lawmakers receive a daily salary, mileage and a daily stipend to cover meals and hotel rooms. Legislative and security staff must also be paid.
Wagle estimated lawmakers will run out of money to keep working on June 2. She left open the possibility of passing a bill to keep funding the Legislature.
“If we need to finish our business and continue to get paid, we will have to run a budget bill to do that, probably on Tuesday,” Wagle said.
But she told fellow GOP senators during a meeting that she wants to finish the session by the end of next week.
“Our goal is to come to agreement on taxes, budget, school finance by next Friday,” Wagle said.
The state faces a $900 million budget shortfall over the next two years, with lawmakers gridlocked over how to close the gap. The Legislature also faces a court-imposed June 30 deadline to pass a new school funding formula.
The House shot down a tax plan on Monday that would have raised $1.2 billion over two years by raising personal income tax rates and ending exemptions for some kinds of business income. A possible debate over another plan never materialized Wednesday.
The House passed a school finance bill that would ramp up school spending by $180 million next year, and $278 million the year after. The bill, House Bill 2410, passed 84-39 on Thursday, after an hours-long debate the day before.
“The real difficult issue that we’ll have to deal with next week will have to be the tax issue as to how much do we need to both stabilize and balance the budget and fund a school finance bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.
The $1.2 billion plan rejected by the House on Monday was the largest that has been put forward so far. A full repeal of the 2012 tax cuts would potentially generate about $1.4 billion over two years.
Other plans that have been considered have ranged from about $900 million over two years to $1.1 billion.
No plan, except House Bill 2178, has found the right mix of support. That plan, which would have raised about $1.1 billion, passed the Legislature in February but was vetoed by Gov. Sam Brownback.
At 101 days, the session is now the fourth-longest in state history. The longest session, 114 days, came in 2015. That year, lawmakers also struggled with how to solve a budget shortfall.
Senate and House Republican leaders have held out the possibility of working through the weekends. But neither chamber has worked a weekend in May.
“When we come back on Tuesday, please pack your bags and be prepared to finish, see this thing through,” House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, told House Republicans in a meeting Thursday morning.