education funding

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File Photo

Kansas lawmakers are preparing to open their annual session facing a court mandate to boost spending on public schools but with little appetite to do what might be necessary to pay for it.

The Republican-controlled Legislature was scheduled to convene Monday afternoon for short, mostly ceremonial meetings to start the traditional 90-day clock. GOP Gov. Sam Brownback, who is waiting to depart for an ambassador's post, will give the annual State of the State address Tuesday evening and lay out budget proposals Wednesday.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Tuesday suggested the Legislature let the public have a say on the state’s constitutional duty to pay for public education, but he steered clear of criticizing the Kansas Supreme Court’s rulings on the topic.

Schmidt called for a “thoughtful, balanced, global discussion” about what Kansans want from a provision that they added to the constitution in the 1960s by popular vote. The provision requires the Legislature to provide “suitable” funding for public schools.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers are facing an even tighter deadline to pass a new school finance law this session, after an attorney for the state encouraged them to finish their work on the topic less than two months into the coming 2018 legislative session.

Asked Monday by lawmakers what legal staff need to help make the state’s case, Arthur Chalmers urged them to aim for the start of March for handing off a new school finance bill rather than sometime closer to the date the Kansas Supreme Court set for filing the state’s arguments.

CHARLIE RIEDEL-ARCHIVE PHOTO / Associated Press

In the summer of 2005, the Legislature butted heads with the Kansas Supreme Court over a ruling that ordered an influx of money to public education.

The result? Kansas came closer than ever to a constitutional crisis.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers began groundwork Monday for their response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s order to fix school finance by this spring. The same day, a Hiawatha senator announced he will seek to curb the court’s powers through a constitutional amendment.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A special Kansas legislative committee on public school funding is having its first meeting next month to start work on a response to a state Supreme Court order to boost funding.

The committee is scheduled to convene Dec. 4 at the Statehouse.

The Supreme Court ruled in October that state aid to public schools remains constitutionally inadequate even with a new law phasing in a $293 million increase over two years to make it $4.3 billion annually. The court directed lawmakers to enact a new law before July.

alamosbasement / flickr Creative Commons

Former Kansas lawmaker Jim Barnett, who hopes to be the next governor, called Thursday for another $600 million in public school funding.

Kansas legislative leaders plan to spend $400,000 to get help in drafting a new public school funding law, including separate lawyers for the House and Senate.

The five top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature agreed on the plan Tuesday. The two Democrats present at legislative leaders' meeting called it a waste of money and opposed it.

The House and Senate each would spend $100,000 to hire its own attorney. The entire Legislature has had a single attorney previously.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Updated at 9:22 a.m. Tuesday

Kansas lawmakers soon will start work to determine their response to a ruling by the state’s Supreme Court that found K-12 public school funding unconstitutional.

Kansas News Service/File photo

The top Democrats in the Kansas Legislature are calling on Senate President Susan Wagle not to wait until January to start work on fulfilling a Kansas Supreme Court order to fix funding for public schools.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, and his counterpart in the House, Jim Ward of Wichita, wrote a letter to Wagle, who heads the Legislative Coordinating Council, seeking an interim bipartisan panel of House and Senate members.

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