Jeff King

Stephen Koranda / KPR

An attorney advising the Legislature met with Senators Monday to discuss school funding issues. Lawmakers need to write a new funding formula before ending the session. Former Republican state Sen. Jeff King briefed lawmakers on what might satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.

Lawmakers need to comply with the court, which says the current Kansas school funding system is inadequate. King said lawmakers could tie funding to some sort of index, like the inflation rate, so funding goes up over time.

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

Educators and some lawmakers weren’t sure which Jeff King they were going to hear from Thursday.

Would the House K-12 Budget Committee hear from the conservative former Senate vice president who pushed through block grants and tried to defund the courts? Or would they hear from a constitutional lawyer with experience litigating school finance cases in Kansas?

Turns out, it was the latter.

“I don’t think there’s anything he said that really threatens where the bill is going,” said Mark Tallman, the top lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Today lawmakers working to craft a new Kansas school funding formula hear from their lawyer about whether the proposal they’ve been working on all session is constitutional.

The bill the House K-12 Budget Committee has on the table includes $750 million in new money for schools over five years. The committee’s lawyer, former state Sen. Jeff King, will weigh in on whether that’s enough to satisfy the state’s high court.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman from Olathe suggests the price tag could actually be much lower.

Dole Institute of Politics / Facebook

The political landscape is changing at the Kansas Statehouse. When the session starts in January, more Democrats and more moderate-leaning Republicans will fill seats in the state Legislature. They’ll also face two big challenges: filling a $350 million budget hole and writing a new funding formula for public schools.

Last week, lawmakers, reporters and political party officials sat down at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas to talk about the fall election and discuss what effects it might have on Kansas.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Updated June 27, 2016: Gov. Sam Brownback signed Substitute for House Bill 2001, which aims to satisfy a mandate from the Kansas Supreme Court to correct inequities in school funding. The bill increases state funding for poor districts by $38 million for the 2016-17 school year by diverting funds from other parts of the budget as well as redistributes funds from wealthier districts. Brownback says that signing the bill ensures that Kansas schools will remain open.

“I appreciate the hard work of legislators which began prior to the start of the session in a series of meetings," Brownback said in a press release. "The effort to bring together legislators, educators and attorneys resulted in a bill supported by all parties and a stipulation by plaintiff’s attorney that House Bill 2001 satisfies the equity portion of this litigation."

Brownback also congratulated House Speaker Ray Merrick and Senate President Susan Wagle for "an efficient and focused special session."

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The vice president of the Kansas Senate says he will not seek re-election.

Republican Jeff King, from Independence, says lawmakers have become too focused on what he calls soundbites and politics. King says the current political system punishes lawmakers who admit they’ve made a mistake and try to fix it. He uses the example of a business income tax exemption he initially supported, then in recent years worked to eliminate.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File Photo

State lawmakers are considering how to erase a budget shortfall, and on Thursday a Kansas Senate committee took a look at business taxes.

Lawmakers held a hearing on a bill that would partially roll back a tax exemption for business income. Jim Eschrich is a business owner who says the tax changes overall have been good, but he says it’s unfair for some business owners not to pay income taxes.

The Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee's chairman is promoting a series of measures aimed at making the courts more efficient in response to a budget-focused address by the state Supreme Court's chief justice.

Independence Republican Jeff King sent Chief Justice Lawton Nuss a letter Thursday, a day after Nuss gave the annual State of the Judiciary address. Nuss warned that the courts need another $8.3 million for the fiscal year beginning in July to avoid employee furloughs.

Stephen Koranda

In 2005, 17-year-old Robert Haberlein and two other people entered a Dollar General store in Bonner Springs. It was late in the day and only one person, 44-year-old Robin Bell, was working in the store. The three overpowered Bell and took her into the back of the store, forcing her to open the safe. They beat her before shooting and killing her.

The chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court and a prominent legislator are butting heads. At issue are allegations made the the justice.

He says the legislator, who's an attorney, tried to make a deal tying a pay raise for court workers to a constitutional amendment.

Chief Justice Lawton Nuss wrote a letter to a group of judges outlining the allegations. He said that Senate Vice President Jeff King told a group of judges in a meeting if they didn’t support a plan to overhaul how Supreme Court justices are selected, then the pay increase might not pass.

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