Archive for Thursday, May 7, 2009

House votes for 2.75 percent across-the-board state budget cut; bill goes to Gov. Parkinson

May 7, 2009

— Topeka — A bipartisan plan to implement a 2.75 percent across-the-board cut to the state budget was given final approval today and sent to Gov. Mark Parkinson for his consideration.

The final action on the spending bill was made in a dramatic House vote where Democrats and a group of moderate Republicans overturned the wishes of House GOP leaders who wanted deeper cuts.

The coalition fashioned a 64-60 vote in the House, two days after Democrats and moderate Republicans scraped together a 21-17 vote in the Senate for the bill.

Lawmakers are in the ninth day of the wrap-up session to address a $328 million deficit for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee had approved a bill that called for a 4.8 percent across-the-board cut.

But opponents of that measure called on the House to agree to the earlier-passed Senate bill with the 2.75 percent across-the-board cut.

“We will not get anything better,” said state Rep. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka.

State Rep. Jerry Henry, D-Atchison, read a long list of social service programs that would be cut under the 4.8 percent reduction. That proposal, he said, “would bring so much pain we probably couldn’t stand it.”

But others argued that by not approving deeper cuts, lawmakers ensured there will be a tax increase to bridge a hole that still exists in the spending.

Others, however said the gap -- somewhere between $35 million and $70 million -- can be bridged without a tax increase.

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