Politics & Government

McGinn offers bill to halt pay for legislators beyond 90 days

TOPEKA — Lawmakers head into next week without an agreement on the budget, and Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, on Friday introduced a measure to halt legislative pay after Thursday, the 90th day of the session.

In odd-numbered years, legislators can meet past the standard 90 days without voting to extend the session, said Alan D. Conroy, director of legislative research.

Last year, legislators and their staffs met 89 days. In 2009, they met 88 days, and in 2007 and 2008, they met 90 days. The longest legislators have met —at least since 1969, which were the records Conroy had on hand Friday — was for 106 days in 2002.

McGinn and others called for finishing up by Thursday.

"Kansans elected us to come to Topeka to get our work done within the 90-day session," McGinn said. "For those concerned with balancing the budget and — as much as is possible — setting good public policy, we need to get serious about finishing our work and going home."

It costs $60,000 every day legislators meet, Conroy said. That figure includes salaries for support staff such as session secretaries and the men in burgundy suit jackets who serve as doorkeepers to the chambers.

"We do not have extra money to pay for legislators' inaction," McGinn said Friday. "That money could be better spent in the classroom or serving our most vulnerable citizens, if legislators get their work done on time."

House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, on Friday afternoon called McGinn's measure "window dressing." He said he would support asking legislators to decline pay at their choice but raised concerns about the legality of stopping pay.

Mary Torrence, revisor of statutes, said she knew of no reason why ceasing pay at 90 days would be unconstitutional.

Many legislators were gone by early Friday afternoon. Some went home Thursday.

Budget negotiators from both chambers meet again Monday morning.

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