The Buzz

The facts, faces and hum of local politics with Steve Kraske and Dave Helling

BuzzChatter Tuesday: Reid acknowledges that the Senate doesn’t operate the way it once did

01/14/2014 3:16 PM

01/14/2014 3:32 PM

Tuesday’s intriguing political talk:

• “It doesn’t work the way it used to, not because of anything (Democrats) do wrong but because of the obstruction of President Obama’s agenda.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, responding to frustration from Republicans over their inability to offer amendments. Reid dropped the amendment hammer out of his own frustration at what he calls GOP intransigence

Senators are sparring over legislative procedures as they wrestle with the farm bill and a measure extending jobless benefits. The infighting, needless to say, is not a good omen.

• “Income tax reform is long overdue in Missouri, but real reform must focus relief on middle-income Missourians. The system isn’t fair when someone making $10,000 a year pays the same rate as someone making $10 million a year.” — Missouri state Rep. Jon Carpenter, a Kansas City Democrat, offering a House Democratic tax proposal.

That Democrats are talking about tax reform and tax cuts, at least for some, is an indication of just how much resonance tax-cut legislation has in Jeff City this session as state revenues improve. The Democrats have proposed a progressive, three-tiered system that they say would be revenue neutral, presumably because the rich would pay more. They insist that the GOP alternative would gouge the budget and favor the well-off over the poor.

• “I can only speculate why Governor Brownback would think a half million dollar loan from his lieutenant governor on the last day of the reporting period was necessary.” — Bill Kassebaum, treasurer for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis, on Republican Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer’s $500,000 loan to the re-election campaign of the Brownback-Colyer ticket.

Brownback officials didn’t disclose the loan during during pre-filing e-mails about campaign numbers, and it only came to light after reporters reviewed the governor’s filing late Friday. Democrats had a field day with the development, noting that fully one-third of the governor’s 2013 fund-raising total came from Colyer’s loan. The loan was clearly made to pad Brownback’s totals, but it all amounts to a p.r. boo-boo.

• “I'm not into speculation. We know it's out there. We know something's coming. We'll have to deal with it when it gets here.” — Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick, a conservative Stilwell Republican, on an upcoming ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court on school funding that promises to shape the 2014 session.

The session began Monday amid dramatic uncertainty over how the court will rule. Insiders are betting that the judges will order hundreds of millions in new education spending. Conservative lawmakers who dominate the Legislature could well balk at the demand, sparking a constitutional crisis. The court ruling, and how lawmakers respond, is THE issue of the session.


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