Phillips works for free now

By The Mercury

One area legislator began working for free when the 2013 Kansas Legislature rolled past its statutory 90-day limit Friday.

State Rep. Tom Phillips, a Republican, was among nearly two dozen lawmakers who declared they would waive income from the session beyond Thursday’s 90-day limit.

Also among lawmakers working for free this week is Sen. Jeff Longbine, an Emporia Republican whose district includes Wamego.

“I did last year, and every year I have served. I plan to do it every year in the future,” Phillips said of waiving payment for overtime sessions.

He termed it “frustrating (that) we are unable to complete our work within 90 days,” and said taxpayers “shouldn’t have to be burdened because we can’t get our work done.”

State Sen. Tom Hawk also took himself off the state payroll last week, but for a different reason. Hawk declined to take pay for several days toward the scheduled end of the session because he was away at a wedding. That period covered May 20 through 22. He began getting paid again May 23, and will do so when lawmakers reconvene Tuesday.

“It’s fine if people choose not to get paid,” Hawk said, noting that it costs $45,000 a day to keep the legislature going. But he blamed the process for the session’s length.

“We took an unprecedented four-week break this year. I thought we would be easily done, but that’s not the case. The fact is, we are always over.”

Lawmakers still must pass a budget; and decide whether to extend or let sales tax drop.

State Rep. Sydney Carlin chose to continue to be paid, the same decision she made under similar circumstances last year.

“I’m still working. I think it is important for people to get paid for work,” Carlin said. “I don’t feel I need to waive my pay.”

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