Commentary: Kansas' budget impasse an embarassment

This editorial appeared in The Wichita Eagle.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius moved GOP legislative leaders' perceived roadblock out of the way Tuesday by signing their $326 million rescission bill, with the exception of some vetoed K-12 school cuts and other changes. It would have been better if she'd signed the bill as written, spreading the pain more fairly. It was also disappointing to see her veto $2.5 million in extra funds badly needed by the Wichita Center for Graduate Medical Education.

But her action apparently satisfied Republican leaders and will close this embarrassing episode. Too bad it ended up needlessly frightening Kansans and stirring up national partisans.

Sebelius rightly called it "ludicrous" of GOP leaders to have balked Monday at letting the state borrow $225 million from itself to meet its financial obligations. This self-borrowing has happened many times before, most recently in December and often in the period leading up to April 15 each year, when the state gets a surge of tax revenue.

And it strained credulity for GOP leaders to have argued that such borrowing would be illegal until Sebelius signed their bill or otherwise cut the current budget, especially with the state's budget director for the past 11 years, Duane Goossen, contending there was no legal justification for GOP leaders' refusal to authorize new certificates of indebtedness.

"It is a tragedy that the governor has escalated this," state Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, said at one point.

Oh, please.

What was tragic was that the budget bill was the first piece of legislation to reach Sebelius' desk Tuesday since the 2009 session began 37 days ago.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Wichita Eagle.