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Kansas Senate Slated to Debate Tax and Budget Bills

Senate President Susan Wagle speaking about the tax and budget plans Tuesday.

The Kansas Senate will take a crack at tax and budget plans Thursday. The full chamber will debate a budget bill that cuts K-12 and higher education by $150 million to help eliminate a deficit. They’ll also consider a revenue package that would eliminate a tax exemption for some business owners and raise income tax rates.

Republican Senate leaders are pitching these plans as a package deal that will get Kansas on solid financial ground. Leaders say if schools take the spending cut, lawmakers could look at restoring funds in the coming years.

Senate President Susan Wagle says if the plans are approved, they will have the stability to start work on a new funding system for Kansas schools.

“We will write a new formula, and we will pass a new formula and we will give them predictability and stability for the future,” Wagle says.

Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, says the cuts would have a significant impact on schools and they’re skeptical of the future funding.

“In our view, the Senate tax bill is too little to give much confidence that things are going to turn around,” Tallman says.

It looks like it’s probably going to be a long debate with a lot of amendments.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.