Budget passes Kansas Legislature, headed to Governor’s desk

The Kansas House passed a budget on Saturday night just before 9 p.m. by a 79-45 vote that broke a day-long deadlock that was originally started in an effort to get Medicaid expansion voted on in the Kansas Senate. Representative Nancy Lusk made a non-Medicaid related point when she explained her no vote.

“We desperately need more prison beds,” Lusk said. “This measure will delete $11 million for increasing the number of prison beds. Kansas has 1400 more inmates than we did in 2010, but we only have the same level of staff and facility capacity. The state has gone to double-bunking in maximum security. No wonder there have been prison riots. Next year, it is projected that there will be an increase of 375 more offenders. This was our only chance to remedy the crisis this year.”

Additional corrections funding requested by Governor Kelly remained in the budget bill, but is now under the oversight
of the State Finance Council.

Former House Majority Leader and the member who made the motion to send the original budget bill back to committee on Friday, Republican Don Hineman told the Wichita Eagle’s Jonathan Shorman that Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning committed to running Medicaid expansion in January and that a plan would be developed by an interim committee.

“We talked about the structure of the waiver and the timing, what we’re going to do, especially for the rural hospitals,” Denning said in a floor speech late Saturday night. “They left the meeting feeling pretty good about a modernized approach.”

Governor Kelly released a statement late Saturday night. She said then,

“For many of our neighbors struggling with illness or disability, time is something they do not have. Due to the failure tonight, thousands of Kansans will go without health care for another year. The Kansas House Democrats stood strong together against pressure, threats, and coercion in an effort to help more Kansans get access to affordable healthcare. I commend them for their determination on behalf of our families.”

The Senate, for its part, didn’t take long to finish its work once the House gave it the budget bill. The bill was passed on final action just after 11:15 p.m. 26-14.