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SPOTLIGHT
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Pay-go makes Senate president powerful

Published on -2/6/2013, 2:27 PM

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Rules. They are important in every aspect of our lives. Rules can give those in powerful political positions the opportunity to run things as they see them. An excellent example of rules being used to one's advantage is pay-go.

Pay-go is a provision that allows no floor amendment to increase the amount of expenditures in an appropriations bill unless a like amount is reduced from some other portion of the bill. An example would be that if you wanted to make an amendment to increase base state aid for education, you would have to propose deleting a matching dollar figure from another area -- example: delete that matching amount from health care.

One group would love you, the other would be very upset.

A positive of that plan is it keeps one political party from proposing amendments they know will not be accepted. In the past, this would be done so a politician could say they proposed a great plan but their opponent voted against it.

The House of Representatives has had pay-go in effect the last two years. It gives the Appropriations Committee a lot of power, as you only need 12 members to pass an appropriations bill. There are 23 appropriations members.

The Republicans are chosen by the speaker of the House. The number of Republicans is based on the percentage of Republicans in the House. The minority chair chooses the members from his party. This year, there are 93 House Republicans and 32 Democrats. The makeup of the committee is 17 Republicans and six Democrats.

This year, the Senate also passed pay-go. The Senate has a makeup of 32 Republicans and eight Democrats. Susan Wagle, the first lady to be president of the Senate, made a rules change that allows her to be solely in charge of appointments to Senate committees. The Appropriations Committee in the Senate is known as the Ways and Means Committee. There are only nine members. If you have followed my logic, this makes the Senate president the second most powerful politician in the state as Sen. Wagle only will need five votes to control spending.

Personally, I had a very exciting week. My Education Budget Committee passed two bills to the House. Both bills dealt with the transfer of lands and involved the University of Kansas and Emporia State University. This week, we began budget hearings. I have 17 budgets in committee that will total 62 percent of the state general fund budget.

I also was given the honor of presiding over the full House on Thursday. It was very exciting to sit in the speaker's chair and lead the House for a day. The judicial selection bill passed out of the Senate and will be coming to the House. I am guessing there will not be a vote for several weeks in the House.

Ward Cassidy, R-St. Francis, represents the 120th District in the Kansas House of Representatives. ward.cassidy@house.ks.gov

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