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SPOTLIGHT
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Losing, winning in the Legislature

Published on -5/20/2014, 10:09 AM

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We're not gonna know and nobody is gonna tell, but that little $5 million line item veto by Gov. Sam Brownback last week on the budget bill looks a little ... well, let's say, as politically good as it gets.

Doesn't it?

Just a pen-flip on the last bill of the 2014 session prevented pulling $5 million of funding from the Kansas Endowment for Youth, which this election year has to be a good thing, doesn't it? That money -- from the tobacco settlement fund -- had been earmarked by the Legislature for the Kansas Bioscience Authority so it could continue to invest in new and expanding technical companies in the state.

Let's see, this is an election year, and the Legislature previously killed Brownback's high-profile plan to spend approximately $16 million this year to make all-day kindergarten available to children in all Kansas school districts. And then, after a Kansas Supreme Court opinion, lawmakers reshuffled school finance and while everything's paid for, it wasn't a press release-worthy exercise.

So, lawmakers take money supposed to go to such catchily named programs as Tiny-K, Early Head Start and Parents as Teachers, and want to spend it on technology investments?

Brownback's veto is not a hard decision if you want the votes of parents and grandparents whose children and grandchildren are assisted in getting a good elementary education. Who lost? Well, politically -- that's for gubernatorial voting of course -- those starched-shirt technology gurus who have an idea for some new app or something.

Count 'em up, and the votes are on the side of the children, and Brownback gets points for taking care of programs for them.

Was the $5 million a throwaway, a political point-maker handed to the governor? Or was the now-killed transfer a way to put money into important scientific and job-creating businesses across the state?

The Bioscience Authority initially was after $35 million in the upcoming fiscal year to make investments to finance that growth industry, which the Senate agreed to, and the House pared to approximately $27 million. After negotiations between the four lawmakers who essentially wrote the budget, two from the House, two from the Senate, that $27 million was boosted to $32 million by pulling in $5 million from KEY. Brownback vetoed the $5 million, bringing the authority back to $27 million in new state funding.

A big deal in a $6 billion-plus state budget? Probably not, but it's a move that children's advocates are happy about -- and that brought them together for a letter-writing campaign for their cause.

The politics of it? We won't know until November. But it presented the governor a nice play for fans of children's issues.

Syndicated by Hawver News Co.

of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report.

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