Kansas lawmakers reach deal to avoid state worker furloughs

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TOPEKA, Kan. —Kansas legislators on Saturday passed a bill that will protect all state workers from furlough as they continue to work towards a budget deal.

Thousands of state workers received emails on Friday afternoon telling them if a budget isn't decided on by Sunday they couldn't go to work on Monday.

The Senate hoped to have a tax compromise passed on Saturday, but an afternoon vote failed 34-5.

But there is good news—at least briefly—for state workers as the Kansas House passed a bill on Saturday declaring all state workers essential employees in order to avoid furloughs.

The legislation, SB-11, was unanimously passed and heads to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's desk for signature.

In a statement released on Saturday afternoon, Brownback said that he will sign the bill.

“Every state employee is essential to our success and provides needed services to the citizens of our state," said Brownback in the statement. "All state employees should report to work as normal beginning Sunday, June 7, even though the Legislature has not yet passed a bill authorizing expenditures."

“The solution is for the Legislature to continue its work, and bring to my desk a balanced budget with sufficient revenues to pay state obligations and do so now."

Under SB-11, even if a budget isn't passed all state employees would still report to work and be paid at a later date once a budget is decided upon.

But some lawmakers say this bill is simply a band-aid, and is not solving the real problem—a new tax plan.

"Is that the right way to do this? No. It's not. The right way to do this is pass a tax plan to do what we need to do," said Republican Senator Les Donovan of Wichita.

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