Kansas House rejects school funding plan

Capitol Bureau

On Monday, lawmakers in the Kansas House voted down a school funding bill. 

In October, the state Supreme Court ruled schools weren’t properly funded and told lawmakers they needed to come up with a solution. 

The bill failed on a 55-65 vote and didn’t advance to final action. It was the first school funding debate to happen in the House this session.

After the two hourdebate, Republican leaders expressed eagerness to find support for the bill and attempt another vote on Tuesday. 

“What most needs to happen is more conversation among members of the body to come to some conclusions of what we actually need to do and what we can afford,” explained House Majority Leader Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton. 

Under the proposed plan, lawmakers would invest $522 million into schools over the next five years. 

“Clearly it wasn’t enough money for some people and too much money for others, you know that Goldilocks factor,” said K-12 budget committee chairman Rep. Fred Patton, R-Topeka.

Democrats argued the proposed plan didn’t account for inflation. 

“We’ve got an issue where some people think if we don’t go with a much higher number, they wouldn’t vote for it,” said State Rep. Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield.

Trimmer proposed an amendment to add an additional $295 million to the proposed plan. His amendment would’ve brought the total school funding increase to more than $815 million over five years. The amendment was voted down.  

“Some people politically up here want to see us go into special session, and want to see schools close,” Trimmer said. 

Republican leaders said the proposed plan is all the state can afford without raising taxes.

“The conservative approach is to go with what we believe we can handle and I believe this is the limit of what we can do,” explained Hineman. 

Lawmakers are fighting the clock. They face an April 30th deadline to present a school funding plan to the Supreme Court. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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