Kansas lawmakers have approved an increase in school funding, after an intense debate that lasted well into the early morning hours.
Early Sunday morning, the Senate approved a bill by a vote of 21-19. The bill would phase in $534 million to education funding over the next five years. The House approved the bill on a 63-56 vote.
The bill now heads to Governor Jeff Colyer’s desk.
“Tonight, after months of robust debate, the legislature voted to send a bill to my desk that funds our schools and provides a response to the Supreme Court’s ruling,” said Governor Jeff Colyer. “I am pleased that we were able to compromise and pass a bill that ensures our schools will remain open and are funded adequately and equitably.”
Senate GOP leaders were skeptical of the plan, concerned it will force a tax increase, and had pushed a $274 million phased-in increase.
“It will force additional tax increases,” said State Rep. Ty Masterson, republican from Andover. “We just had the big tax increase last year and it’s retroactive and with that large of number moving forward.”
Lawmakers are working on an April 30 deadline to fund a school funding plan that will satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling. Last fall the court ruled the state wasn’t spending enough money on schools.
Earlier in the evening hundreds of teachers rallied at the statehouse, calling for a funding bill to pass.
“We’re looking to come here and fulfill their commitment to the children of Kansas,” said Phillip Wrigley of Lawrence.
The Kansas National Education Association organized the rally.