Archive for Friday, January 7, 2005

Sebelius seeks Legislature’s lead on school funding

January 7, 2005


— Don't expect a school finance plan from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, at least for now.

Asked if she would propose a plan to the Legislature, Sebelius on Thursday said it was time for lawmakers to try to fix school finance.

"At this point, it's important for the Legislature to figure out where they want to go," Sebelius said.

On Monday, the Kansas Supreme Court said the Legislature had failed to meet the Kansas Constitution's requirement "to make suitable provisions" for public school finance.

The court gave lawmakers until April 12 to provide more funds. The 2005 legislative session starts Monday.

Last year, Sebelius, a Democrat, proposed a $300 million tax increase for schools, but the Republican-dominated Legislature rejected the proposal.

On Thursday, in her first public comments since the court's decision, Sebelius said of legislative leaders, "A lot of them decided last year they wanted to wait until the court gave direction.

"So I'm ready, willing and able to work with them in any way possible, but I think the Legislature needs to come together with a plan."

Asked whether fixing the school finance system would require a tax increase, Sebelius said she wanted to see what lawmakers proposed.

"It's up to the Legislature to look at the budget that's proposed, to look at where the resources can come from and then put together a plan," she said.

But, Sebelius added, the court wants a long-term solution.

"What's important is that we have a dedicated source of funds on into the future," she said. "So one-time money doesn't work."

The unanimous court opinion said a funding increase was needed, but it didn't say how much.

Topeka -- Last year, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius caused a stir when she delivered the State of the State address and waited until the live television coverage of her speech was over before releasing information about her proposed $300 million tax increase for schools.On Thursday, Sebelius' office announced she won't release her proposed budget for state government until the day after her State of the State address, which will be given 7 p.m. Monday.The delay breaks from decades of precedent.Nicole Corcoran, a spokeswoman, said the governor wanted to focus on themes and broad proposals in her address, before briefing lawmakers and the media Tuesday on her budget proposal.

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