UPDATE #7 as of 3:21 a.m. Monday.
Here’s a messy, non-transparent way to pass laws affecting the futures of 3 million Kansans: As midnight came and went Sunday — and Monday began — lawmakers had discussed how to pass bills on the busted state budget, drugs, health care, guns, family planning and even bison.
At 1:05 a.m. Monday the House barely endorsed a budget that could close the gap on a $290 million imbalance created in large part by the unfair income tax cuts passed by Gov. Sam Brownback and the GOP in 2012. Then the budget headed to the Senate.
And at 3:19 a.m., the Senate finally approved the budget on a narrow vote, after it first appeared to have lost. The biggest farce in the bill: It delays the state’s payment of nearly $100 million into the pension fund for about two years. It’s anyone’s guess if the near-bankrupt state will ever be able to make that payment, or others, in the future.
In the end, Brownback got what he wanted — a budget that he can decide how to cut in other places even after the delayed pension payment, thanks to the Legislature largely shirking its duty to make the tough calls.
However, earlier in the night, the Legislature did make it easier to carry guns in Kansas!
And of course they defunded family planning!
The lawmakers — including lots of ultra-con Republicans who always want to “keep more money in your pocket” — voted for $10 million in fee increases to help the Kansas Highway Patrol.
To be clear, some relatively good things were happening, too.
The lawmakers were rushing to pass a large stack of bills, which wasn’t making some of them happy at the frantic pace, especially late at night, when people are not paying attention.
And some citizens weighed in with criticism on Twitter.
Even some members of the media (imagine that) were complaining.