Legislative Update: Legislature Adjourns
By Terry Humphrey, Executive Director
Legislators worked through the weekend before narrowly passing a budget bill in the wee hours of the morning on Monday, May 2. The bill as passed does not balance the budget but instead assumes the Governor will make millions of dollars in additional cuts and sweep more than $100 million from KDOT in order to balance the budget as required by the Kansas constitution.
As it now stands, the budget bill prohibits any cuts to K-12 public schools; delays a $100 million payment to KPERS until June 2018; and forces KU and K-State to bear a larger share of a 3 percent cut to higher education (a move both schools are urging Brownback to veto) while lifting restrictions on tuition increases.
In the wake of the budget bill, Moody’s Investors Service lowered the state’s outlook from stable to negative.
The bottom line is that the state’s budget problems will continue for the foreseeable future. Efforts to roll back the 2012 tax cuts, which many believe are responsible for the recurring revenue shortfall, have not gained traction—particularly in this election year. In addition to the Governor’s efforts to balance the budget, we are still awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling on the equity of the school funding bill passed by the Legislature. Stay tuned.
Speaking of the elections, a number of lawmakers will not seek re-election this year. Sen. Les Donovan, chair of the Tax Committee, announced he will retire after 24 years in the Legislature; and Sen. Jeff King, Senate Vice President, also announced he will not seek reelection.
Wrap up of bills we followed this session:
SB 338 Rehabilitation of Abandoned Real Property by Cities. Passed Senate and the House but was vetoed by the Governor.
SB 366. This bill prohibits “any ordinance or resolution that would have the effect of controlling the amount of rent charged or the purchase price agreed upon between the parties to the transaction for the lease or purchase of privately-owned residential or commercial property.” Passed May 1 as part of a Conference Committee Report.
SB 499, in Senate Ways and Means Committee, requires school districts to strategically source specific spend categories through the department of administration. This bill was heard in Senate Ways and Means Committee, on March 14. The bill appears to be in response to the A&M efficiency study and places all “services” over $20,000 under the state bid law. AIA Kansas opposes the bill. The bill died in committee.
House Substitute for SB 249 (formerly House Bill 2703) limits the authority of state agencies to “enter into indebtedness” and complicates the process for funding state capital improvement projects in general. The bill also created a Public Private Partnership Commission to develop recommendations for the Legislature concerning when such partnerships are appropriate, the selection process for awarding partnerships, and other key features. The Commission would be composed of members of the Legislature, the Executive Branch, and the private sector including a representative from AIA. The Commission’s report would be due by Dec. 31, 2016. This bill was “gutted” of all prior language and became the vehicle for the aforementioned budget bill.
HB 2721, currently in the House General Government Budget Committee, would create three committees to examine ways in which Kansas boards and commissions could share or consolidate resources. Each 15-member committee would be responsible for a long list of boards and commissions set forth in the bill, and would make recommendations to optimize their efficiency. Committee members would be chosen from the respective groups being studied. The State Board of Technical Professions and the State Building Advisory Commission are among those listed to be reviewed by the general regulatory committee. The bill died in committee.