The Kansas Legislature reconvenes on today for a veto session, and if we can make any predictions about the next couple of weeks, it’s that they will be contentious.
Think about the issues on the table: Medicaid expansion, the next state budget, tax policy, and a possible amendment to the state constitution about abortion rights. Tempers have been lost and friendships strained over far, far less.
But we have high expectations for lawmakers. Senators should make a point to pass Medicaid expansion, as we have repeatedly called for. Both chambers should pass a fiscally responsible budget that funds the expansion, while making sure we preserve essential investments in services across the state. And while abortion politics is a fraught issue with passionate believers on both sides, we hope that lawmakers are able to treat one another with respect during the debate. Given the complexity of constitutional law, no one should be in a rush.
It’s a sad commentary on the state of political discourse today that these simple expectations sound so wildly optimistic. Indeed, they might be characterized by some as absurdly over-optimistic. In recent years, it was absurdly over-optimistic to assume that legislators would even have their session wrapped up by the end of May.
Those bad old days seem to be behind us. But it’s apparent that legislative leadership is reluctant to allow Gov. Laura Kelly to many political wins, even if the votes for her policies are there. The governor, on the other hand, has poll numbers that bolster her reluctance to budge. There are reasons to suspect this veto session might take longer — and accomplish less — than this editorial board hopes.
There’s little reason to belabor the point about Medicaid expansion. Our stance is clear, and has been clear in numerous editorials. Crafting a budget is always unwieldy, but the less partisanship brought to the process the better. Tax policy is likewise highly charged, with Democrats and Republicans not only reading from separate playbooks, but speaking different languages.
However far apart lawmakers are, though, the session must end. At the very least, a budget must be passed. So over these next days and weeks, we exhort Kansas legislators to set a good example. There is no reason to make disagreements personal or bitter.
There is a reason to collaborate for the good of all Kansans.