Kansas Mental
Health Coalition

Conference Committee tee's up Budget Debate for House, Senate puts a Tax Bill into Conference

June 02, 2015 6:50 PM | Anonymous

June 2 2015 – Tuesday

The day began with articles and social media quoting the Governor’s office regarding possible state employee furloughs and Senate leadership wanting to limit the day’s tax debate by voting to suspend the rules and not allow the Democrats to “divide the question” during the planned tax debate today. 

Ultimately, Leadership is attempting to push a Senate tax bill into conference committee, while the budget conference committee tee’d up the debate on the mega-budget, House Sub for SB 112, in the House for Wednesday.

At their 1:30 p.m. session today the House adopted agree to disagree on SB 112 – new bill brought into budget conference committee in order to provide a Senate based vehicle for the budget.  This is now the mega-budget bill.  Once the Senate adopts an agree to disagree motion on SB 112, the conference committee will be able to adopt a conference committee report on SB 112 and move it forward for action in the House of Representatives.  

Note that 112 was formerly a bill by Committee on Veterans, Military and Homeland Security - Expedited professional state credentialing for military service members and nonresident military spouses.  2048 moves from Corrections and Juvenile Justice CC to the Judiciary CC to replace 112.   

At noon on Tuesday, the Budget Conference Committee created three budget options:

SB 112 is now the mega-budget bill that had been agreed – for the most part – early in May by the conference committee.   There were also amendments made to a number of provisos relating to subscription cuts, reading program, regents, school block grant posting issue, pension obligation bonds, MCO insurer’s tax revenue, capturing unspent dollars in the education block grant extraordinary needs fund, and the fund for county reimbursements. 

HB 2135 – was the mega-budget bill that passed the Senate late March – amended to include the mega-budget as agreed early in May by the conference committee – PLUS additional 2% executive agency cuts, but exempts K-12, Regents, state hospitals, public safety agencies.

HB 2010 – the “nuclear option” – includes the mega-budget bill as agreed early in May by the conference committee – PLUS additional 6% across the board cuts – no exemptions.

By mid-afternoon, the conference committee altered the options, with Senate Chairman Masterson moving to remove the 2% option, instead making HB 2135 an across the board 5.7% budget cut on top of the cuts within the mega-budget as agreed earlier.  No agencies would be exempted from these cuts.  HB 2010 is apparently out of consideration for now.  The rumor is that Masterson wants to run the 5.7% option in the Senate, but others disagree.

The Senate adopted a tax bill Tuesday afternoon – Senate Sub for HB 2109. 

The Senate debated tax policy for four days – in full debate on the floor – with no success.  So, Senate Leadership brought forward a plan to move a base bill into conference.

Members adopted a controversial amendment from Senator Jacob LaTurner, establishing a property tax lid, requires public vote to increase property taxes by city or county.  It passed 30-10, but local governments will be very opposed. 

There was extended debate on the most consequential amendment (by Senator King).  It would not bring the fiscal note of the bill fully in line with the $400 million revenue needed to fully fund the mega-budget as currently described in House Sub for SB 112, but would help get a tax bill into conference.  The purpose is to put a conference-able bill into conference committee for three senators and three representatives to hash out. King’s comprehensive amendment includes taxpayer amnesty, Christmas tree, social security number requirement, Baumgardner Dept of Revenue amendment regarding letters to taxpayers, repeals the alumni association exemption and maintains LaTurner’s amendment.

The odd part of this discussion is that the House already passed House Sub for SB 270 last week – which only included the amnesty plan – anticipated to bring in $30 million.  So, technically, there is already a “conference-able” bill.  Either way, the conference committee would be creating a tax package that includes provisions, such as increasing sales tax or rolling back some of the income tax repeal for small businesses that are distasteful to numerous legislators.  When voting on a conference committee report, it is either a yes or no -  there is no longer an opportunity for amendments.  So, members of the Senate protested this direction. 

The final amendment – by Senator Francisco – reinserted the language to decrease the food sales tax rate to 5.7%. 

The bill passed 25-13.

See similar article with bill description.

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

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