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Next week, the legislature will reconvene for the wrap-up session?also referred to as the omnibus session or veto session. The one looming aspect for wrapping up?and revamping?will be the budget.

In my first columns, I talked a lot about the budget, and it is still the biggest issue of the day. The consensus revenue reports came in last Friday, and we now know that revenue receipts received by April 15?our taxes coming in?are down about $350 million more than previously predicted in November, and it appears we will have less than a $20 million cushion to start the new fiscal year in July.

The governor planned on substantially more than that. We have to find $330 million in new money (translate that to ?raised taxes?), or find $330 million more in cuts (spending reductions), or some mix of the two.

The questions are the same ones that were raised in January and February: What can we cut without crippling our future? What can we tax that won’t harm our citizens? There are no easy answers. Can we even raise taxes slightly without harming Kansans?

I want to say we will not raise any taxes. I want to say we will not further cut education, the needy or corrections. I can?t say both and balance the budget.

What we could do is attack the plethora of sales-tax exemptions, if there is the will in the legislature to pare them down. Right now, there are 83! Eliminating most of them could help.

Next week will likely find me with no new information on the subject in time to write my column on Sunday; therefore, I may have nothing to report next week. Time will tell.

You may e-mail me at Brookens70@sbcglobal.net, or write me at either 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861 or at Kansas State Capitol Building, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. If you are coming to Topeka, call me at: 785-296-7636.

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