DALLAS — Kansas lawmakers will return to Topeka in three weeks to resolve differing version of the state’s $14.1 billion budget proposal for fiscal 2013 after an agreement fell apart over the weekend.
House Republican leaders pulled the plug on the budget deal after both sides had agreed on a $24.6 million allocation to local public school districts in a dispute over the source of the funds.
The Legislature is scheduled to reconvene April 25 to adopt an omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1. Lawmakers will also have to resolve differences in tax-cutting bills and several spending measures.
The three senators and three representatives on the joint budget conference committee agreed that lawmakers would decide on the amount of the school allocation and from where it would come.
The Senate wanted for the money to come out of the state general fund, but House members of the joint legislative conference committee opted for a plan to take the money from the state highway fund.
The money is to reimburse the state’s 300 local school districts for unexpected costs.
However, when a written copy of the compromise legislation was distributed, Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, objected because the measure included the $24.6 million appropriation without specifying the source of the funds.
Rhoades and House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the uncertainty over the funding was not acceptable to House members.
O’Neal said the money should not be appropriated until the funding is determined.
If lawmakers couldn’t resolve the funding dispute when they return, he said, the money would automatically come from the general fund.
“This one alone causes them to go back to the drawing board,” O’Neal said.
Senators on the committee contended that many budget issues were left unresolved as well, and refused to change the proposal.
Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, a member of the conference committee and chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said she was baffled by the House’s refusal to endorse the compromise.
“For whatever reason, the House changed their minds on the agreement,” she said.
A spokeswoman said Gov. Sam Brownback is confident the budget issue will be resolved.
“We are very close to an agreement, which will complete our state’s journey from having only $876.05 in the bank to an ending balance in the hundreds of millions,” said spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag.