By David Klepper
But they’ve got a long to-do list to scratch off first.
1) Pass a budget reduction bill that eliminates the state’s $328 million deficit. The Senate passed a plan (though it relies on yet-to-be-passed tax legislation) but the House is still wandering after defeating one plan and finding not enough support for a second.
Look for a big House debate today in which lawmakers fight over more school cuts, state worker pay reductions, or delays to tax cuts for businesses. If it passes, lawmakers are a lot closer to finishing their work for the year.
Alternatively, the House could give up and concur with the Senate plan, though conservatives who want more significant spending cuts don’t like the idea. But the longer the session goes on, the more tempting the option will be to House Dems and moderate Republicans.
2) Tax bills. The Senate plan right now comes up about $70 million short of erasing the state’s deficit. They have a plan to offer amnesty to certain delinquent tax payers they estimate will raise $35 million. Finding the other $35 million, however, is a little harder. There are proposals to delay some tax cuts, primarily for business, or maybe reduce the number of state tax credits. But lawmakers have yet to approve any of these measures.
3) Energy legislation. Lawmakers must pass a series of energy regulation reforms as part of the Gov. Mark Parkinson coal plant compromise with Sunflower Electric Power Corp. It passed out of a Senate committee last night, and the Senate hopes to pass it this afternoon. It includes some modest proposals to encourage renewable energy and efficiency. There’s little question the measure will pass, but will Democrats upset about Parkinson’s deal vote no out of protest?
4) Abortion override? There’s little talk about this this week, but many lawmakers still hope to override Gov. Sebelius’ last veto, of a bill that, among other things, would require Dr. George Tiller to provide the state with the medical diagnoses he uses to justify late-term abortions.
Right now it’s still possible lawmakers could wrap-up their 2009 session in time for Mother’s Day. But should the budget doldrums continue, lawmakers could find themselves here in the Statehouse next week, when presumably some of them will be crying for their mothers.