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Senate Passes So-Called 'Pay-Go' Budget Rule

Stephen Koranda
KPR/File photo

  The Kansas Senate has passed a new rule that will make it harder to increase spending in budget bills.

The rule is known as "pay as you go," or "pay-go." It requires any budget amendment added on the Senate floor to be offset with an equal cut in spending. That means once a bill leaves committee, the overall amount of spending can't be increased.

Opponents of the change say it stifles senators, because they can't add spending to the budget for things their constituents would want.

Senator Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, says it gives all the power to decide the size of the budget to a small number of the chamber's 40 members.

A simple majority on the Senate Ways and Means Committee will have the authority to determine the size of the state's budget. And by that I mean six people, because the committee now has 11 members,"  he says.

Senator Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, says the rule change won't stifle debate. He says senators will still have options to adjust the total budget spending.

If this body decides this is not the proper spending level - we need to spend more, you can send it back to the committee and say, 'Try again,' says Masterson.  

"You can raise taxes, this is all up to you. This does not restrict that debate."

The Kansas House instituted the same rule two years ago.