Government & Politics

Kansas House passes school finance plan, but some say funding is still inadequate

Rotunda of the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka
Rotunda of the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka

Kansas lawmakers continued to push a new school finance formula forward Thursday, though questions remain about whether it will be enough to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.

The Kansas House gave the new school finance bill final approval on an 84 to 39 vote Thursday morning after initially agreeing to the new formula the day before.

The bill phases in a roughly $280 million increase over the next two school years, far short of the amount Kansas Democrats say is needed.

Some Democrats said Thursday that they believe the court may turn down the formula, which could lead to a special legislative session.

“The funding in this bill is woefully inadequate,” said Rep. Tom Sawyer, a Wichita Democrat.

Most Republicans stood by the formula and said it’s far from certain what the court will do.

“The bill provides significant additional funding,” House Majority Leader Don Hineman, a Dighton Republican, said.

“I think without a doubt this meets constitutional muster,” Rep. Clay Aurand a Belleville Republican, said. “Someone needs to say it I guess.”

A March ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court found the state failed to ensure adequate funding for public schools. The justices gave lawmakers until June 30 to pass a new school finance plan.

Alan Rupe, the attorney for school districts who sued over funding in the state Supreme Court case, said after the bill received initial approval Wednesday night that the funding level fell short.

Hunter Woodall: 785-354-1388, @HunterMw