Politics & Government

House, Senate negotiators agree to move budget bill to House floor

(Jan. 22, 2014)
(Jan. 22, 2014) File photo

House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement to move a budget bill to the House floor by Wednesday.

Work continues on two other alternative budget bills that would impose across the board spending cuts, some shallow and some deep.

The bill budget conferees agreed to send the House members Senate Bill 112, which is based on budget agreements made earlier in the session. It would be about $390 million short of a balanced budget, absent passage of a tax increase to fully fund it, said Senate tax chairman Ty Masterson, R-Andover.

Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr., R-Olathe, the House Appropriations chair, said passing the budget will solve one piece of the puzzle while the debate on taxes continues.

Passing a budget would allow the state to avoid furloughing workers on Sunday. However, if it doesn’t pass a tax plan to fund that budget, cuts could be necessary later.

Democratic members of the budget conference committee wouldn’t sign off on the budget bill. Republicans were planning to execute an “agree to disagree” motion Tuesday afternoon, a procedural maneuver that will allow the bill to go to the floor without Democrats’ approval.

Masterson also proposed two alternate budget bills that would include budget cuts to narrow or potentially eliminate the deficit contained in SB 112.

The first of the alternate bills, House Bill 2135, would start with the SB 112 budget but impose a 2 percent cut on state administrative agencies.

Schools, most public safety, state hospitals, social service caseloads and debt payment would be spared from that cut.

It would fund part of the shortfall.

The second alternative, House Bill 2010, would impose a 6 percent across-the-board cut on everything but debt payments. That would cut about $390 million from the budget, nearly enough to close the gap.

House Republican budget negotiators said they wanted to discuss the alternative bills with their members before they OK queuing them up for floor votes.

Moving a budget plan and then trying to fund it is an effort to break the tax gridlock that has paralyzed the Capitol for weeks.

The budget bill would be considered by the House first. If it passes there, it would head to the Senate.

The Senate voted on a preliminary budget bill two months ago. The House has yet to vote on any budget bill. That has bothered some House members, who say the Senate has been in control of the process.

House leaders also have held off on tax debates until the Senate passes a plan. Despite working all weekend, the Senate had not passed a plan by Tuesday morning.

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.