An amendment by State Senator Jim Lembke (R, Lemay) reversed the cut that the House wanted to use for Higher Education. State Rep. Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City) authored the original cut, stating that the pension program is for blind residents who have too much money to be on Medicaid. He calls the Senate’s actions puzzling.
“Senator Lembke was one of the so-called Gang of Nine, which was chest-thumping about cutting government and shrinking the size of government, cutting spending," Silvey said. "By the time Senator Lembke offered his amendment, by his own numbers admitted that it put the budget $7 million out of balance...so all the guys that were screaming that we didn't cut enough ultimately spent the rest of the money in the bank and then some.”
Silvey added that it may not have been necessary to cut pensions to the blind if Lembke and his co-horts had not threatened to filibuster the tax amnesty bill as part of their opposition to the use of one-time monies in the state budget.
“The entire framing of the argument around this issue is a fascinating study in hypocrisy," Silvey said. "You got on one hand them denying the vote on tax amnesty, which would generate $70 million dollars for the state...they won’t even let that come to a vote because it’s one-time funds, but at the same time there’s $18 million from the federal government which is (also) one-time funds, and it’s okay over there.”
The House is expected to reject the blind pension restoration when negotiators work on the final version of the budget.