No go so far in Topeka

By The Mercury

The Kansas Legislature adjourned Friday until next Tuesday after a proposal from top Senate Republicans failed to win support in the House.

House and Senate negotiators’ met Friday following the 109-5 House vote against a Senate proposal to lower the sales tax on groceries to 4.95 percent in January. The plan also would have kept the sales tax on other items at 6.3 percent.

The Senate approved the measure Thursday evening on a 24-15 vote.

Gov. Sam Brownback wants to cancel most or all of the sales tax decrease to stabilize the budget while Kansas cuts individual income taxes

The adjournment until Tuesday guaranteed that the Legislature’s annual session will last at least 95 days, five more than the state constitution specifies. Each extra day is costing taxpayers up to $45,000.

State Reps. Sydney Carlin, D-Manhattan, Rep. Tom Phillips, R-Manhattan, Ron Highland, R-Wamego, and Vern Swanson, R-Clay Center, all voted against the Senate proposal, which was also opposed by Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan. Sen. Dennis Pyle, whose district includes part of Pottawatomie County, also opposed it. Sens. Elaine Bowers and Jeff Longbine, both with some area constituency, supported the proposal.

Carlin said following the vote that the real solution is to redo the income tax cuts done in the 2012 session. “That’s how we get out of this painful mess we’re in,” she said.

Brownback’s effort to maintain the sales tax included a call to keep higher education funding flat, which he said the additional sales tax would allow.

Carlin said she didn’t think that was the case considering the budget proposal has a three percent cut to higher education.

She said elements of the tax bill are available for reconsideration through conference committees.

“We won’t vote until they give up on every other thing,” she said of the Republican leadership. “My guess is we’ll be here most of next week.”

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