June 19, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Senate Republican Closed Caucus Meeting Goes Public

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Senate Republicans met in closed caucus on Jan. 30 at the Topeka headquarters of the Kansas Association of Insurance Agents. Only Republican Senators, one staff revisor of statutes, and Senate leadership staff attended the private meeting, but some news from within the meeting slipped out. Former state Sen. Jeff Melcher, who did not attend the meeting, tweeted as the meeting progressed. He did not say where he was getting his information, but Sen. Vicki Schmidt, Topeka, announced to the closed caucus room that information about the meeting was appearing in real time on Twitter.

During the meeting, Sen. Caryn Tyson, of Parker, presented various tax scenarios, telling Senators, “We need fairness for everyone.” She presented scenarios of passive income tax increases with losses and talked about sales tax exemptions. Sen. Jim Denning, Overland Park, asked about a .1 percent increase in income tax, but noted that such an increase in the upper income tax bracket would bring in less than an increase in the lower income tax bracket. Denning wasn’t the only Senator voicing support for an increase tax increase, according to Melcher’s tweets.

Sen. Carolyn McGinn, Wichita, introduced her chief of staff, Larry Hinton, who presented an interactive spreadsheet to the closed caucus. McGinn said she has a cuts bill that would start with a 5 percent cut including unencumbered funds. A 5 percent cut in K-12 education would only be about a $3 million cut to education.

Sen. Jeff Longbine, Emporia, said the only way to fix the current year’s budget is to cut spending and use the Pooled Money Investment Board interest, more commonly called the unclaimed property fund. Senate President Susan Wagle, Wichita, told the group that cuts have to be part of the “healing process,” according to Melcher’s tweets.

View the series of tweets about the meeting here.

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