“Are we going to fix this turd or not?” Those were the words of Kansas state Senator Jim Denning (R) at a caucus meeting held during the wee hours of the morning following a debate on plans to close the state's budget hole that extended beyond everyone's bedtime.
Although the legislature continued to debate until 2 a.m. in the morning, they did not advance a solution as each side of this nigh incomprehensible circlejerk took shots at each other.
The most promising plan to close the budget gap would be to roll back the elimination of income taxes for businesses that Governor Sam Brownback pushed for, but the governor's office has stated that it would veto any attempt to revive the income taxes.
The governor's office is pushing a different plan that some state lawmakers are calling bullshit on.
Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan warned GOP lawmakers Sunday that the governor would veto any attempts to roll back that exemption – aside from his own proposal to tax guaranteed payments to partners of limited liability corporations.
The Department of Revenue estimated that taxing guaranteed payments would bring in $23 million, but Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, called that “fictitious” because most LLCs would be able to get around that. [...] “Are we going to fix this turd or not?” he asked at the caucus meeting early Monday.
Sen. Greg Smith, R-Overland Park, called it “smoke and mirrors.”
"Everything on here is fiction,” he said. “You take this plan and shove it."
Although the legislature helpfully delivered unto Sam Brownback the financial catastrophe he requested from them, I can see why they're less than impressed by the proposals supported by the governor's office.
After it became abundantly clear that Brownback's magic tax cuts were never going to work, the governor began to segue responsibility from himself to the legislature. Brownback is now hanging the legislature out to dry by refusing to sign any plan that would actually fix the problem.
There's only so much schadenfreude I can enjoy from a distance because unless the legislature and the governor come to an agreement by the end of this week, average state employees will be furloughed next Sunday.
Even if state lawmakers are able to find a solution, they will likely face a similar dilemma this time next year. Long-term projections have shown that state revenue could fall by over a billion dollars over the next two years and this current snafu only accounts for $400 million.