The Buzz

TheChat: Furloughs, furloughs, furloughs are all the talk in Kansas



▪ “We are talking with the secretary of state, legislative staff, Department of Administration, budget office and others to determine the last possible date a budget can be passed before furlough notices would have to be issued.” — Eileen Hawley, a spokeswoman for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, on the possibility of temporary mass state employee layoffs if lawmakers can’t close a $400 million budget hole.

This is the second day in a row that leading Republicans have talked furlough in the Sunflower State. They are clearly aiming to spur lawmakers to reach a deal on the budget. But progress remains elusive. Could a government shutdown be in the offing?

▪ “My concern is we don’t have much of a voice in Congress.” — Republican Roger Marshall, an obstetrician and gynecologist from Great Bend, announcing his plans to challenge GOP incumbent Tim Huelskamp in 2016.

Marshall’s early launch suggests a seriousness of intent. His quote refers to the fact that Huelskamp was stripped of his seat on the House Ag Committee in 2012 after a series of disagreements with House Speaker John Boehner. Marshall said western Kansas needs to be represented on that panel. A spokesman for Huelskamp responded by labeling Marshall a moderate.

▪ “Our state has never been in this position before.” — Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Chair Steve Miller on the woeful state of highway funding.

Miller said the department has never had “to tell the voters we simply can’t take care of the system anymore, and we’re shutting down services.” Lawmakers rejected a small increase in the fuel tax this session. The issue moves to the top of the agenda next year.

▪  “It still happens. It just amazes me.” — Missouri prison chief George Lombardi on how often visitors attempt to smuggle illegal drugs into the state’s prisons.

In fact, the Post-Dispatch reported that drug violations accounted for about a fifth of the 5,000 reports of illegal activity within state prisons in recent years.