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Archive for Monday, April 26, 2004

Sebelius calls for increased school funding

April 26, 2004

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today said she hoped the Legislature would work quickly on school finance when the session reconvenes Wednesday, and added she wouldn't hesitate to call a special session if lawmakers fail to approve an increase in funding.

"We have a job to do here in the state, and I'm alarmed every day when I open the papers and look at the kind of drastic cuts the school boards are making here in Topeka, in Lawrence, in Wichita," Sebelius said.

Sebelius has proposed a tax increase for schools, but the Senate has rejected six plans.

A state judge has declared the $2.6 billion Kansas school finance system unconstiutitional because of under-funding, especially in districts with high miniority student populations.

"Schools really need some infusion of resources this year, and we need to send a message to the Supreme Court that we are very serious about responding to the lawsuit," Sebelius said. "So until that job is done, I'm here. I hang out here. I'm staying until the work is done," she said.

She noted that a $93 million plan by Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka has "received some positive remarks."

The proposal would increase the state sales tax by one-tenth of a cent and the state income tax by three percent.

She said she hoped the Senate would adopt a school finance plan on Wednesday or Thursday, and then the House and Senate could start negotiations on a final proposal.

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