Jessica Larson
KU Statehouse Wire Service
Kansas lawmakers sent a school funding bill to Gov. Sam Brownback before they adjourned Thursday for a four-week break.
The House and Senate budget committees advanced their versions of a revised education budget Wednesday. The Senate passed the budget bill with a 32-5 vote, while the House approved the measure 93-31.
The revisions are in response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s February ruling on the current means and methods for equalization of funding to school districts. The court ruled the state’s plan to use block grants to fund schools was unconstitutional because of a requirement for poorer districts to impose higher property taxes in order to raise adequate funding.
Republican leaders in the Senate discussed using language that could arguably send a message to the Supreme Court. Members said the bill “fully complies with the Supreme Court’s order” for revision.
Sen. Laura Kelly, D–Topeka, who is on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said she doubted the court would appreciate the language.
“I certainly appreciate all the editorializing we put into the bill today. I’ve never seen that happen before,” Kelly told the committee Wednesday. “I do believe that this is cobbled together in the hopes that the court, which probably doesn’t want to shut the schools down either, will say this is good enough.”
In its February ruling, the court said if lawmakers do not have a sound budget by July 1, it would close public schools until lawmakers produce a constitutional budget for adequate education funding. July 1 is the first day of the next fiscal year.
Edited by Leah Sitz