Capitol Bureau

Kansas Senate approves $274M school funding plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) - The Kansas Senate narrowly passed a school funding bill on Thursday. 

The school funding bill passed on a 21 to 18 vote after some Senators switched their votes. 

In October, the state Supreme Court ruled schools were not properly funded and gave lawmakers an April 30 deadline to come up with a solution. 

"I was very pleased we were able to pass a plan that doesn't require a tax increase on Kansans," said Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita. 

Under the Senate's plan, the state would add about $274 million to schools over a five-year period. It also uses some of the money for early childhood education. 

"There is a lot of good policy in there, so I was pleased how it turned out," said State Sen. Dan Kerschen, R-Garden Plains.

The Senate's plan is much lower than the House's nearly $520 million plan which passed earlier in the week. 

"Anything less than the House is not going to be adequate and so even if we compromise halfway, it's not adequate and it's not equitable," explained State Sen. Lynn Rogers, D-Wichita.

"I'm happy that we're moving forward. This is something that we needed to get passed so we could get to the next level and start negotiating," said State Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, R-Baxter Springs. 

Members from both the House and Senate are expected to start meeting Friday to negotiate a final school funding bill to send to the governor's desk. 

"I think the House bill just barely meets court muster and so if we negotiate toward the middle, we'll end up with another unconstitutional bill," said State Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka. 

Lawmakers are scheduled to leave for their April break starting end of day Friday, however many lawmakers say because a plan is not in place they think they'll be working this weekend. 

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