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Democrats challenge GOP lawmakers to lead way on budget

TOPEKA — Ten House and Senate Democrats challenged Republican legislators to put forth their own plan for balancing the state budget if they don’t like the governor’s plan for sales and tobacco tax increases.

But the Republican speaker of the House responded that he thinks it’s unreasonably early to expect GOP lawmakers to release a budget plan.

The Democratic lawmakers conceded Wednesday that they have their own misgivings over Gov. Mark Parkinson’s plan to close a $400 million budget gap with a 1 percentage point increase in the sales tax coupled with dramatically increased tobacco taxes.

But they complimented their party’s governor for putting forth a detailed plan to get negotiations started and said it’s time for the GOP lawmakers, who have veto-proof majorities in both houses of the Legislature, to step up.

“We were particularly concerned not that Republicans disagreed with the governor, but that they presented no ideas as to what they wanted to do with the state,” said House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence.