TOPEKA, Kan. — Republican leaders already are conceding that the Kansas Legislature won’t stick to a traditional 90-day schedule for its annual session next year because of contentious budget and school funding debates.
The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/2d5rxPW ) that the GOP-dominated Legislature’s top seven leaders decided Tuesday to budget for an additional 10 days in session for 2017, for a total of 100 days.
Legislators expected to draft a new formula for funding the state’s public schools. Also, with state tax collections having fallen short of expectations eight of the past nine months Kansas is facing at least a small shortfall in its current budget and potential spending cuts for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce said it is more practical to plan for a long session now than having to find more money for it later. Bruce, a Nickerson Republican, lost his August primary race.
Democratic leaders opposed the move as a bad precedent.
“I think we’re sending a message that we don’t plan on getting the people’s work done within 90 days,” said House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, a Kansas City Democrat.
To control costs, legislative leaders also agreed to budget for only an 80-day session in 2018. The moves shift roughly $500,000 in costs to 2017.
The 2015 session lasted a record 114 days as Republican lawmakers fractured over increasing sales and cigarette taxes to close a budget shortfall.
The state constitution specifies 90-day sessions in even-numbered years but allows lawmakers to vote to remain in session longer, and there’s no limit on how long lawmakers can meet in odd-numbered years. Still, legislative leaders have traditionally planned on 90 days.
This year’s session lasted only 73 days, but lawmakers also had a two-day special session on school funding issues.
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com