New plan keeps Kansas governor in decisions on COVID funds

FILE - In this Friday, May 8, 2020 photo, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly discusses the coronavirus...
FILE - In this Friday, May 8, 2020 photo, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly discusses the coronavirus pandemic during a news conference with Dr. Lee Norman, the state's top health administrator, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas. Her orders and local orders meant to check the spread of the novel coronavirus are facing legal challenges. (AP Photo/John Hanna)(KWCH)
Updated: May. 8, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature backed off its effort to remove Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly from final decisions on how federal coronavirus relief funds are spent.

Budget legislation approved Friday includes a provision that gives top lawmakers more say but still allows Kelly to veto their proposals. Kansas expects to receive $4.8 billion from the last federal coronavirus relief package.

Kelly appointed a task force last year to recommend how relief funds should be spent, with the State Finance Council making final decisions. It is the governor and eight top lawmakers, six of them currently Republicans.

Kelly calls council meetings, sets the agenda and can veto what it approves. Top Republicans became frustrated with her.

Legislators last month approved a measure to leave final spending decisions to a different, Republican-dominated group of only legislative leaders. Kelly vetoed that plan, and the House overrode her action Monday in an 86-38 party-line vote.

But as GOP negotiated with Kelly on other issues this week, they crafted a compromise and dropped into budget legislation.

The Finance Council would make final decisions about how federal relief funds, but a task force with four of seven members appointed by top lawmakers would have to approve spending first.

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