Ray Merrick

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The top Democrat in the Kansas Senate says lawmakers haven’t accomplished enough so far this session.

Legislators are facing a significant deadline this week, which marks the midpoint of their scheduled time in Topeka. Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley believes they’re not making enough progress solving problems like a budget shortfall.

Hensley is concerned that they haven’t tackled some big issues and they haven’t passed enough bills. He says they’re already set up to go beyond the normal 90 days of the Kansas session.

Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick says he'll be working to focus the chamber on economic issues for the rest of the legislative session. Some controversial bills in the House have caught national attention and criticism in recent weeks.

Merrick, a Republican from Stillwell, Kan., says he can't stop members from filing bills, but he can try to get lawmakers back to what he calls the basics of making Kansas the “most business-friendly state in the country.”

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will start a tour of the state's universities this week to pitch his funding proposal to lawmakers.

Brownback is pushing for mostly level funding for colleges and universities with some targeted increases, but legislators are considering cuts. Brownback says higher education has a connection to economic growth in Kansas. 

Kansas Senate Could Cut Governor's Budget

Mar 4, 2013
Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Leaders in the Kansas Senate say they'll likely pursue cuts to the budget recommended by Governor Sam Brownback.

It's about a month into the 2013 legislative session, but the top Democrat in the House is questioning if lawmakers will be able to wrap up in 80 days as planned. Representative Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat, says legislators will soon need to decide if they'll support the governor's tax proposal or perhaps create their own proposal.

“I’m hopeful and supportive of trying to finish in 80 days, but the prospects of doing that, I think, are getting bleaker,” says Davis.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has proposed more income tax cuts in Kansas over the coming years. And to help pay for that, he wants to make permanent part of a temporary sales tax increase that is set to expire later this year. He's also suggested eliminating some tax deductions, like the home mortgage deduction.

There is now a conservative majority in both the House and Senate, and some lawmakers may try to find additional cuts to state spending instead of using the sales tax and tax deductions to help pay for an income tax cut.