Budget deal struck

0 | Budget, Legislature

— House and Senate budget negotiators today agreed to postpone dealing with the thorniest issues dividing them until legislators return for the wrap-up session in late April.

That allowed the conference committee to reach accord on a budget plan that can now go before their respective chambers for consideration Friday.

Among the items postponed for the wrap-up when lawmakers begin crafting the session's final or omnibus spending bill were:

A House proviso that would block the Kansas Insurance Department from spending any money to implement the federal health reform law until the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the Affordable Care Act's constitutionality. The Senate did not include the provision in its version of the budget.

The House budget included $500,000 to fund a Health Savings Account program included as a minor component in Gov. Sam Brownback's Medicaid makeover plan, which is called KanCare. The Senate did not include money for it in its plan.

The Senate had included $1.8 million in its budget scheme to fund admission screenings for youngsters at psychiatric residential treatment facilities. The House did not include the money in its plan.

The House in its budget included $5 million for grants to community mental health centers, taking the dollars from the Oil and Gas Depletion Trust Fund, which is used to boost the coffers of local government in various rural Kansas counties. The Senate did not include that funding.

The bargaining teams began meeting Monday with a list of 183 differences and ended Thursday with all but about two dozen resolved.

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