Kansas Mental
Health Coalition

Budget Conference Committee working quickly to wrap up Budget Bill

May 01, 2014 12:39 PM | Anonymous
When the Legislature convened for Veto Session on Wednesday, April 30, the Appropriations Committee wasted no time in creating a budget bill.  The committee adopted the consensus caseloads, adopted the Governor's Budget Amendments (GBAs), adopted some of the omnibus funding items associated with legislation that has already passed the Legislature, dumped the contents into a Senate bill and adjourned.  

The normal legislative process would have led to staff cranking out multiple pages of statistics, combined costs, and ending balances.  Then, perhaps by Friday, the full House would consider the budget bill.  But this is certainly not a year for normal legislative process.  There has been no further action to create a House budget bill - instead, House conferees moved directly into negotiating with the Senate over the Senate's budget bill.

Senate Ways and Means had already adopted the consensus caseloads over the legislative break.  Also, the Senate had already passed a "mega-budget bill" during the regular session under a House bill number, so it was ready for conference committee.  Typically, SWM would meet again to create an omnibus budget bill.  Not this year.

Surprisingly, the Committee leadership began conferencing on the Senate mega-budget bill and began adopting various new provisions as a part of that conference committee report.  (It had been rumored that the House might enter budget negotiations without passing their own budget bill - but few were betting on it.)

This could put the Legislature in the amazing position of being able to pass a budget bill and possibly adjourn by late Friday or Saturday.  By meeting until around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the conference committee was able to pare down their list of "items of disagreement" from more than 130 to less than 10.  The conference committee has met several times on Thursday, and the House just adopted an "agree to disagree" motion which will allow the conference committee report to come back to the floor with only four signatures of the six conferees.  

There are other issues pending before the Legislature, but none are absolutely necessary to accomplish before adjourning.  Even though the Legislature has ten days set aside for its veto session this year, it is apparent that the leadership hopes to wrap this up as soon as possible.  So, if any of the major tax proposals, anti-common core bills, or anti-renewable portfolio standards bills are to pass this session, they need to pass conference committees or find other legislative vehicles... soon.  

(c) Kansas Mental Health Coalition, P.O. Box 4744, Topeka, KS  66604  785-969-1617

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