ROELAND PARK, Kan. — Kansas lawmakers plan to work through the weekend to determine how to balance a $400 million budget deficit, but in the process they are cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.
The new budget goes into effect on July 1, but lawmakers haven’t be able to agree on a solution to balance it. Some want to fill the gap by raising the sales tax, the gas tax and taxes on cigarettes, but no concrete decision has been made. Others in the Kansas legislature want to eliminate tax breaks to businesses, but Governor Sam Brownback is against the idea.
The budge stalemate is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. Every extra day lawmakers spend debating this issue costs taxpayers nearly $43,000. Lawmakers get paid $88 a day plus $123 for food and lodging and then a little more for gas mileage, which totals to around $43,000 per day. So far, Kansas taxpayers have paid out $387,000 in overtime expenses. Lawmakers said they have a million dollars in their budget to pay for this overtime, but that money will run out in a couple weeks. Also, that is money that could be used to help balance the budget, but right now it’s not.
Governor Brownback’s office indicated as long as a budget is passed by the end of next week, furloughs most likely won’t happen, but it appears that lawmakers are nowhere close to approving a budget.