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Archive for Friday, February 10, 1995

PANELS DIFFER OVER SCHOOLS

February 10, 1995

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State aid to Kansas public schools would remain $3,600 per student under a Senate budget committee's recommendation; a House committee wants $3,630 per pupil.

Topeka (ap) -- The centerpiece of Gov. Bill Graves' public education funding proposal won backing from a House committee but was rejected by the Senate's budget-writing panel.

The House Education Committee endorsed Graves' plan calling for raising the per-pupil amount of spent on elementary and secondary education by $30.

If enacted, the bill would mean an additional $16.2 million for school districts to spend in the 1995-96 school year.

The committee Thursday evening also amended Graves' proposal to raise the weighting factor built into the 1992 school-finance law to provide $7.8 million more for schools with at-risk students.

``I think the bill will have the governor's money in it when it is finished,'' Chairwoman Rochelle Chronister of the Education Committee said.

``I think it will pass the House. The at-risk money might come out, but I think the votes are there to keep the $3,630 in it. I think the governor's bill will pass.''

The House committee's action came on the same day that the Senate Ways and Means Committee endorsed an appropriations bill for the Department of Education that keeps the funding at $3,600 per pupil.

The Senate committee voted 7-4 to endorse its version of the bill, which would appropriate money for elementary and secondary schools, vocational schools and community colleges.

Sen. Gus Bogina, R-Shawnee, the committee's chairman, said the committee did not add money to increase the base budget for schools because the $3,600 figure is set in state law.

``It is not definitive,'' he said of the committee's action.

The Senate committee agreed with a Graves proposal to increase spending on special education programs by $8.3 million, or 4.7 percent. The $185.8 million spent on special education would cover 82.5 percent of the extra costs to schools from those programs.

Both committees' plans are far more costly than some conservative legislators would like. Conservatives want to cut state spending in Graves' budget by $100 million so they can cut sales and motor-vehicle taxes.

Appropriations for the Department of Education account for half of the spending from the state general fund, where the state deposits most of its tax revenues. Therefore, the agency's budget is the biggest the Legislature considers each year.

To meet the conservatives' goal, legislators would have to cut about $50 million from Graves' proposals for the Department of Education.

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