The divide between the House and Senate versions of the budget is clear. The two chambers will go to conference, likely tomorrow, to try to hammer out differences.
One disparity involves $70 million dollar tax amnesty legislation passed by the House, that hasn’t come to a vote in the Senate. The Governor and the House built that into their budget proposals. The Senate did not, and the bill remains in that chamber awaiting a vote.
Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) says he hasn’t brought the tax amnesty bill up to a vote because it uses one-time money to balance the budget. He says, “There’s also the argument that people that have violated the law, that have not paid their taxes, should be penalized in some form. I feel like by (passing this legislation) they avoid a penalty.”
House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) says both chambers passed the tax amnesty bill last year. He says the difference it makes between the two spending plans makes for an interesting budget conference. “Normally you budget to the same number and you just have different priorities … in this instance, in order to get the House positions back we have to not only cover the cost of the House position but also account for the fact that we’re going to be $70 million below in the big picture.”
Another difference between the two proposals comes from another bill, HB 1731, that reallocates lottery revenue. Its biggest impact is to support state veterans programs that lawmakers agree are in desperate need of money.
Silvey says that bill is also awaiting passage in the Senate. “We need to have that addressed. If that bill continues to get hung up … then we’re going to have to figure out a way that we can continue to fund our veterans homes because we’ve all committed to funding them. Nobody wants to underfund that priority.”
The House has approved motions to send 12 of the 13 budget bills to conference. Conferees will likely be officially named today.
AUDIO: Silvey and Representative Sara Lampe (R-Springfield) discuss differences between the House and Senate budget proposals