May 7, 2010
Written by David Klepper
Kansas City Star

TOPEKA | A coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans hijacked the Kansas House this morning, successfully gutting the budget favored by House GOP leaders and replacing it with their own plan.

The new proposal spends more than the earlier one, and will require a tax increase to balance. It’s similar to the budget proposal passed earlier by the Senate. Both give schools more money to offset the loss of federal stimulus funds set to expire next year, and both attempt to restore some social service funds cut last year.

The vote to remove the budget proposal favored by House leadership was 71-49. 

Judging from the votes, the coalition has the numbers to pass a tax increase to fund their budget. Last night the Senate passed a 1-cent sales tax hike, and it’s likely the House will consider that plan soon.

The budget debate continues now. If the coalition can hang together, resist any further amendments and pass the Senate tax plan, it’s likely the Kansas Legislature will adjourn its 2010 session soon, perhaps even tonight.

Conservative Republicans weren’t happy to have the coalition seize control. They said Friday’s budget move was the obvious precursor to a tax increase they vehemently oppose.

They noted the coalition plan circumvented the committee process, and was crafted behind closed doors.

“This is how mistakes are made,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder, an Overland Park Republican whose own budget was obliterated by the coalition’s move.

“Are we the ones who want to impose the largest tax increase in history?” asked Rep. Richard Carlson, a Marysville Republican and chairman of the Tax Committee. “Will we want to join the ranks of New York and California?"

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