Senate vice president says special session on budget possible
TOPEKA — A key senator on Sunday said the Kansas Legislature may have to meet in a special legislative session this summer to resolve the state budget crisis.
Speaking on the television show “Ask Your Legislator,” Senate Vice President John Vratil, R-Leawood, said the prospect of an overtime session in July wasn’t desireable but possible because of the fight over spending and taxes.
“We will, ultimately, see a tax increase before we’re done,” Vratil said.
Nearly $1 billion has been cut from state spending over the past year, but legislators still face a nearly $500 million revenue shortfall for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
This week, legislators are expected to adjourn the first part of the 2010 session without having passed a budget proposal out of either the House or Senate.
A Senate committee has produced a spending plan that leaves a $364 million revenue, but attempts to advance tax increases to fill that gap have failed. And House Republican leaders have approved a plan that cuts spending to public schools, but that has failed to gain any traction.
Legislative leaders have now said they will wait until the wrap-up session, which starts April 28, to write a budget. By that time they will have the most current revenue projection, which is will be made April 16.
State Rep. Marti Crow, D-Leavenworth, also appearing on “Ask Your Legislator” said most of her constituents are telling her that they could accept Gov. Mark Parkinson’s proposal to increase the state sales tax from 5.3 cents per dollar to 6.3 cents per dollar for a three-year period.
Crow said her constituents say they don’t want to see any more cuts to education and social services.
Vratil agreed, saying, “Never before have I heard from constituents saying, `I want a tax increase.’ “
House Republican leaders, however, have said any tax increase would burden Kansans and hurt the economic recovery.