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Lawmakers Grapple with Response to Supreme Court's Ruling on School Funding

A Kansas school bus parked outside the Kansas Statehouse (Photo by Susie Fagen, Kansas News Service)
A Kansas school bus parked outside the Kansas Statehouse (Photo by Susie Fagen, Kansas News Service)

Kansas lawmakers are still considering how to respond to a Supreme Court ruling on public school funding. A special joint legislative committee is scheduled to meet today (MON) and tomorrow (TUE) to continue gathering information. The committee is planning to consider the potential problems caused by diverting hundreds of millions of dollars to public schools from other parts of the budget. Lawmakers have already started initial work on a response to the Kansas Supreme Court's order in October to boost spending on public schools. The Kansas Association of School Boards sees the latest school finance ruling as simple. Kansas schools need more  money. How much more? That's still an open question. Mark Tallman is a spokesman for the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Tallman says they don't want to see money taken away from other state programs to be given to schools. He also says the KASB is opposed to any constitutional amendment that weakens the commitment to both funding  adequacy and equity. Earlier this year, lawmakers phased in a $293 million increase education funding over two years to make it $4.3 billion annually. The court said that still wasn't constitutionally adequate. Tallman thinks there should be a phase in of additional new money. He says that's the way the state has solved such problems before when confronted with school finance litigation.

The KASB asserts that public school funding has not been crowding out other areas of the state budget. It's still about half of state budget dollars, which is where it has been since the 1990s.

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