Yael T. Abouhalkah

Meltdown in Topeka: Brownback, lawmakers keep horror show going

Gov. Sam Brownback and the Republican-controlled Legislature can’t seem to get anything right during the horror show that has become the 2013 legislative session.

In a stunning move Friday morning, the House voted to recess until Tuesday. That was just after the House rejected a large sales tax increase backed by Brownback and Kansas Senate.

So now the Legislature will be in session well past the 80 days it was supposed to meet. That came about two weeks ago.

Summed up, the GOP members can’t agree on what budget to pass or how to pay for it.

Isn’t that like, well, their main job?

Sure it is. But the governor and legislators have been busy with so much other important stuff in recent weeks. Remember that bill that would supposedly make it illegal for federal officers to try to enforce any gun laws in Kansas?

Yeah, got that one passed, even though it’s likely unconstitutional.

This week has been a disaster for Brownback and the Republicans.

Brownback basically has been MIA in the leadership department.

He has been promoting a large increase in the sales tax; he wants to keep it at 6.3 percent even though it’s mandated by a 2010 law to fall to 5.7 percent this summer.

The governor desperately needs the money to pay for all the income tax cuts that he and the Legislature approved in the 2012 session.

Those cuts — if not replaced with funds from the sales tax increase — will negatively affect higher education, K-12 schools, prisons, social services and other basic services the state of Kansas is supposed to provide.

But while Brownback steamrolled Senate leadership and got his tax increase, the House ignored the governor.

Members argued, quite accurately, that the 6.3 percent rate would amount to a tax increase, something the conservative House members didn’t want on their records.

Meanwhile, the Senate was pulling numbers out of the hat on Thursday, trying to figure out ways to get the House to go along with the sales tax increase. During that time, the Senate came up with the idea of reducing the sales tax on food.

The lower rate of 4.95 percent passed the Senate, but by Friday the House wasn’t buying.

So Brownback and his crew will be back on Tuesday, desperately trying to figure out a way to get out of a legislative session that just won’t end.