Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday challenged Republican Senate leaders critical of his budget plan to come up with one of their own.
“If they’re critical of the budget, I understand,” he said Thursday afternoon. “What’s your proposal?”
The budget plan, released Wednesday morning, was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats in Topeka.
Brownback said he met with Republican House and Senate leaders on Wednesday to discuss his budget.
“We laid our budget out,” Brownback said. “Not everybody’s happy about it. It’s a tough budget. We have difficult finances and we’ll see what they come out with on their budget proposals. I haven’t seen a budget proposal from them. They’ve had the numbers the same amount of time as I have.”
Sen. Carolyn McGinn, a Sedgwick Republican, said she didn’t see how the governor expected lawmakers to already have a proposal.
They work off the governor’s budget, she said.
“I did not get a copy of the governor’s budget until (Wednesday) morning,” said McGinn, the chairwoman of the Senate’s budget committee. “So I did not have the same numbers that he had.”
Republican Senate leaders criticized the governor’s plan in a statement Wednesday night, saying the proposal “kicks the can down the road,” and fails to change the state’s LLC tax exemption for roughly 330,000 businesses.
The governor’s budget includes liquidating a long term investment fund, taking money from the state’s highway fund and selling off future payments of the state’s tobacco settlement to mend expected budget shortfalls of more than $1 million through the end of fiscal year 2019.
The governor’s office said Brownback met with the Republican leaders shortly after 4 p.m. The joint statement from the Senate leadership team came out roughly an hour later.
Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, said the Republican leaders had a “great conversation” with Brownback about the budget when they met Wednesday afternoon.
“We were straight up with him that we weren’t going to support those taxes,” Denning said about the meeting. “We want the LLC loophole closed. That’s his signature plan. We let him know that was going to be front and center of our platform.”
Late Wednesday night, the governor’s office released a statement criticizing Senate President Susan Wagle and the leadership’s public response to the budget.
Wagle’s office said Thursday that she had no further comment.
“It doesn’t really accomplish anything to have that back and forth,” Denning said of the criticism from the governor’s office. “We’re going to keep on the high road and that kind of stuff rolls right off my back.”
Brownback told reporters Thursday that this was standard behavior for budget negotiations.
But when he was asked about the comment released by his office criticizing Wagle, once seen as an ally of the governor’s, he would only say that “different people have different opinions.”