Stephen Koranda

Contributing Reporter

Stephen Koranda reports on the Kansas Legislature, state government and everything else for Kansas Public Radio. He previously worked in Mississippi and Iowa, where he covered stories ranging from hurricanes to state executions. 

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The Kansas budget director says the state may take additional highway funds and delay a school payment to balance the budget for the current year. June is the last month of the fiscal year, and Budget Director Shawn Sullivan says tax collections could come up short.

Sullivan says Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration could take $16 million in highway funds and up to $45 million in Medicaid fee funds to help cover a budget shortfall.

Jim McClean / Heartland Health Monitor

The chairman of the Kansas Senate’s budget committee says lawmakers have a preliminary school funding plan. Legislators return to Topeka today for a special session. As Stephen Koranda reports, they’ll respond to a state Supreme Court ruling that says there are unconstitutional disparities in the school funding system.

Republican Sen. Ty Masterson didn’t release many details, but he says the plan would shift $38 million into a certain type of Kansas school funding that reduces disparities among districts.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and other officials toured the Guantanamo Bay detention center last week.

Christopher Sessums / flickr Creative Commons

Representatives of five school boards in Shawnee County are asking Kansas lawmakers for a quick resolution to the school funding dispute.

Patrick Woods, president of the Topeka Public Schools Board of Education, says they want lawmakers to go back to the old formula for reducing certain disparities among districts. That will cost nearly $40 million.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas lawmakers will return to the Statehouse later this week for a special session focused on education spending, and they’ll have to overcome some significant divisions to reach an agreement. The state Supreme Court says they need to reduce inequalities among school districts by the end of the month or schools could close.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Legislative experts are available to answer questions about the Kansas special session.

Cindy Roupe is with the State Library of Kansas, which operates a legislative hotline. She says librarians can provide information such as how to contact a legislator, what bill numbers are being considered and how the legislative process works.

“Because if you don’t deal with this day-in and day-out, you don’t really understand what a conference committee does, how a conference committee works. We can help them through that process,” Roupe sats.

alamosbasement, flickr Creative Commons

The clock is ticking for Kansas lawmakers to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling. The court says if lawmakers haven't reduced inequalities by the end of the month, schools could be closed.

Legislators are considering how to respond, and as Stephen Koranda reports, one disagreement is whether wealthier districts should be protected from losing any state aid.

    

A so-called hold harmless provision would make sure no Kansas school district loses overall state support. Republican Rep. Erin Davis calls the issue vitally important for her area of Johnson County.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Democrats in the Kansas Legislature are outlining a plan that they say complies with a Supreme Court ruling on education funding. The proposal would shift around $40 million from other areas of the budget to reduce disparities among school districts. Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley says the plan would avoid the courts closing schools.

“It is beyond time to work together to address the real problem so that all children, no matter where they live in the state, have access to a quality education this next August,” Hensley says.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / KPR

Kansas lawmakers are still at odds over how and whether to comply with a court order to fix public school funding. Two legislative committees wrapped up meetings on Friday but didn’t come up with any concrete recommendations on how to respond to the court ruling.

Democratic Rep. Jim Ward says he's disappointed.

“The frustrating part is that I thought for a while there we actually were going to make some recommendations that would give the Legislature a focus when we came back next week,” Ward says.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

A former Kansas House Speaker told state lawmakers to fight back against a court ruling over school funding. The state Supreme Court says lawmakers must reduce funding disparities among school districts or schools could close.

Former Republican Rep. Mike O’Neal didn’t tell Kansas legislators directly to defy the court, he said they should respond. But he said they could point to state law passed years ago saying the court can’t close schools.

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