House speaker, Senate president thank colleagues for hard work on Kansas budget

TOPEKA — House Speaker Mike O’Neal and Senate president Steve Morris thanked their colleagues this morning for hard work reaching a $14 billion budget that leaves the state with $50 million in reserves.

Budget negotiators met more than 20 times in recent weeks to hash out agreement on a budget that now goes to both chambers and then to Gov. Sam Brownback to sign.

The budget that negotiators signed off on late Wednesday is “the culmination of some very hard work by our conferees,” Morris, R-Hugoton, told reporters this morning. “Our revenue stream has been very volatile the last few years.”

With a $50 million ending balance, “we do have a cushion there. We have a balanced budget.”

O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said legislators faced a “daunting” task at the beginning of the year with a $500 million deficit.

“A lot of people doubted we could get that job done,” he said of balancing the budget, “and get it done without raising taxes.”

Of negotiations, O’Neal said, “the Senate had priorities. The House had priorities. They were not always the same priorities.”

Both leaders thanked Brownback, who earlier this week gave legislators a nudge to wrap up this week, for offering his help.

O’Neal indicated that legislators would wrap up by Friday. Today marks the last day of the traditional 90-day session.

“This is a responsible budget that sets the state for the resumption of Kansas job grwoth,” O-Neal, R-Hutchinson, said.