Topeka An effort to keep furloughs from shutting down Kansas courts for several extra weeks in the spring got tangled up Friday in some legislators’ frustration with school districts seeking to reopen an education funding lawsuit.
Legislators appear to agree that they should add $5 million to the court system’s current budget to reduce a funding shortfall and limit the number of days workers are furloughed. Without the extra money, the courts could close up to 24 days between March and mid-June.
But some Republicans argue that the state can’t afford to provide the extra dollars without taking the money from another part of the state budget. And they’re targeting aid to public schools.
At least a few GOP conservatives want the court’s money to come out of the aid to the 74 school districts asking the Kansas Supreme Court to reopen a 1999 lawsuit against the state.
Supreme Court rulings in that case in 2005 and 2006 forced legislators to dramatically increase spending on schools. The districts argue that backsliding last year in the face of the state’s budget problems wasn’t permissible.
“If they can find the dollars to fund a lawsuit, I don’t think they’re in as bad a shape as they say they’re in,” said Rep. Joe McLeland, R-Wichita.