The Buzz

TheChat: The frustrated-in-Kansas edition


The Royals have been losing more than they’ve been winning lately, and lawmakers in Kansas are still in session. Coincidence?

▪ “We are all frustrated. My poor staff has had to roll their eyes at some of the things I've said.” — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle on the ongoing — and record-setting — budget standoff that’s resulted in the longest legislative session in state history.

Republican leaders like Wagle are getting pilloried as the session rolls on. With the furlough situation temporarily resolved with a measure that calls all state employees “essential,” one of the pressure points to conclude the session is now gone. At least the Senate passed a revenue package Sunday night, signing off on the largest tax increase in state history. The package now moves to the House.

▪ “I am ashamed of how you are behaving. I've been used as a pawn, and I'm sick of it. Find another tax chair. Tonight.” — Kansas state Sen. Les Donovan of Wichita, the Tax Committee chairman, on Saturday night.

Wagle asked him to hang in their one more day, and the Senate gave him a standing O. It looks like Donovan, for now, is holding on.

▪ “It is past time for the Legislature to act.” — Gov. Sam Brownback on Saturday.

I think we’re all in agreement on that point.

▪ “A black eye to Kansans.” — Kansas state Sen. David Haley, a Kansas City, Kan., Democrat, criticizing a $25 limit on welfare recipients’ ATM withdrawals.

The Legislature passed a measure Saturday that allows state officials to raise the limit — or do away with it altogether. The withdrawal cap, and its accompanying bank fees of $1 a transaction — had received national attention as unnecessarily punitive to the poor.

▪ “Used as pawns.” — Kansas state Sen. Vicki Schmidt, a Topeka Republican, talking about state workers who were facing furloughs until lawmakers passed a bill this weekend that avoids that fate, at least temporarily.

Schmidt’s district is home to many state workers. She was arguing that those workers shouldn’t pay a financial price because lawmakers couldn’t resolve their budget woes. Brownback said he would sign the bill, even though its legality is in question.