Remember the days when if Republicans had majorities in the Kansas House and the Kansas Senate and the guy sitting in the governor’s office was a Republican, well, things generally took care of themselves — for better or worse.
Oh, that we were young again.
Leadership of the House and the Senate, Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, and Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, are both talking about their plans to balance the budget this fiscal year and to put together a tax package that will restore revenues and make sure the state which is broke now doesn’t stay broke.
And neither is talking about passing tax and budget bills with majority votes in their chambers — that’s 63 in the House and 21 in the Senate. Now, in other times, you’d be relatively confident that of the 85 Republicans in the House, Ryckman could lasso 63, and in the Senate Wagle could gather up 21 of the 31 Republicans there to pass about anything they want, then send it down to the governor’s office for a signature.
Not happening this year.
Nobody’s certain whether any tax bill that either chamber comes up with is going to get signed by Gov. Sam Brownback, and that’s why the leadership is talking about the 84 House votes needed to override a veto and the 27 Senate votes to do the same.
The key, of course, is Brownback has turned in his tax and budget plans that won’t cause much of a fuss for anyone if you don’t mind borrowing money and promising to repay it once Brownback is out of office. And, if that’s the budget plan — at least for Brownback — it’s a dandy. No inconveniencing folks who don’t drink and smoke with higher taxes.
Oh, and those LLC folks Brownback is protecting? You remember, the ones who if they are smart enough just to take the money their LLCs make and pocket it and don’t label it “wages,” or anything else that makes it subject to income tax, well, they get just mildly inconvenienced. Now, those LLCs pay a $40 filing fee, and Brownback would hike that by 500 percent — yes, 500 percent — to $200. Yep, but that’s only worth complaining about for most LLC owners if they’re on their third, or maybe fourth drink, at the country club.
Ryckman’s and Wagle’s chambers have produced tax bills for the state fiscal year starting July 1, but which stretch back to New Year’s Day with higher rates. The Senate has a “cut” bill to pare at least $325 million from spending in the remainder of this fiscal year, but nobody seems happy about the cuts to K-12 and higher education.
So, the Senate has a tax and cut program, the House has a tax program but no cuts for the current fiscal year yet, but neither chamber’s leader is confident about getting the other chamber to agree, nor that Brownback won’t veto the bills.
That’s where the 84 in the House and the 27 in the Senate become key to overriding his vetoes, but Republican leaders in both chambers aren’t confident they have the votes for overrides, even if they could come to agreement on a plan.
Yes, something a little different here, and it might be the subtle movement of Republicans in both chambers from the Brownback-supporting “hard right” of the party to the Brownback-questioning centrists. This might be the chance for Democrats to hold their noses and choose GOP centrists as friends to swap provisions with to get a bill they could not only pass, but override a veto.
That’s where it gets different this year. If Democrats are going to help pass veto-proof bills, they’re going to demand concessions, and Republicans are going to have to hold their noses and grant those concessions, or at least some of them.
So, we’re in the weeks of bargaining, and watching who is holding whose nose.
Syndicated by Hawver News Co.
of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report.