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Budget standoff isn't in the budget

With Gov. Mark Parkinson threatening to veto any bill that balances the fiscal 2011 budget by cutting education and other vital state spending, the chances increase that the legislative session could outlast the allotted 90 days. (Thursday was day 77.) "If we can't end up on time, I'll keep the Legislature there as long as they need to be for us to pass a responsible plan," Parkinson told Kansas City TV station KMBC. Bring it on, responded Kent Eckles, vice president of government affairs for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce: "If we have to go into a special session, fine. We need to have this debate about the role of our government and how much we are going to have to spend." Both sides need to be mindful of the potential price of such a standoff: For example, the 12-day special session in 2005 cost $574,000. But that summer the state ended a fiscal year with a flush $481 million balance. Now, lawmakers must fill a budget shortfall as big or bigger.

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