News Columns & Blogs

House accepts Senate budget proposal, cuts 2.75 percent to state government

TOPEKA – In an unusual move, the state House of Representatives voted to accept a budget bill already passed by the Senate instead of debating a proposal of its own.

The motion to concur with Senate substitute for House Bill 2373 came from Rep. Clay Aurand, R-Courtland, who voted against the measure himself but said he wanted to vote to move the issue forward.

The motion narrowly passed 64-60. The bill now goes to the governor.

It is identical to a proposal passed by the Senate on Tuesday. It includes 2.75 percent across the board cuts to most state agencies including kindergarten through 12th grade education.

The measure fills all but $70 million of a $328 million budget gap lawmakers have been struggling to fill.

The Senate Taxation Committee is working on several tax proposals to help fill the rest of the gap.

Appropriations Chairman Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, urged House members to vote against the proposal, saying the chamber would have a second chance to debate its own proposal later Thursday afternoon.

"What we are doing here is we are taking the House completely out of the process," Yoder said.

Last Friday, a House budget proposal failed to gain enough support to pass. The House Appropriations Committee had been working to develop a second proposal but there still didn't seem to be enough support in the chamber to pass the second bill.

Lawmakers are already eight days into a wrapup session and usually the budget is in a negotiating committee by this time, Aurand argued.

"I just wanted to move this down the road," he said.