House and Senate on deadline to meet school funding mandate ahead of spring break

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Lawmakers are on deadline. They have to get a budget deal done, but they also have to meet a court deadline in two weeks to find another $90 million for public schools.

“We have a court date on April 15th. We can not kick the can on down the road,” said Representative Jim Ward, D-Wichita. “So yes ,I think we will come to resolution.”

The $90 million is a court mandate to get schools money to cover the cost of inflation. Inflation money, the Kansas Supreme Court found, is not something schools had been getting.

The Senate Education Chair is Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, who says there is a sense of urgency. Spring break starts Friday.

“We need to get that bill to the governor to sign so that it gets right to the attorney general so that he can file the paperwork the Supreme Court,” said Baumgardner.

Senator Baumgardner says while they do not have a bill to the governor yet, there is substantive work being done. The senator says there is agreement on some issues but not enough.

“So it’s really time for the House to step up, come to an agreement and get their first school funding bill on the floor so Representatives can vote on it,” said Baumgardner. “And they are in a holding pattern for the House to come to an agreement to the Senate’s position.”

Ward says some of the leadership in the House is not in agreement on the Senate side. And he claims there is an ideological debate between Democrats and some moderate Republicans with Republican leadership in the house. But he remains optimistic.

“Probably not today, maybe not tomorrow, but certainly, I think by Friday,” said Ward.

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