Kansas Senate passes school funding fix, sends bill to Gov. Colyer
Topeka ? A bill to fix a flaw in the school funding bill that lawmakers passed on April 7 is now on its way to Gov. Jeff Colyer, who has indicated that he will sign it.
The Senate voted Monday, 30-9, to concur with a bill that the House passed on Saturday.
The original bill, which phases in more than $500 million in new state aid to public schools over a five-year period, is intended to answer a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in October that struck down current levels of school funding as inadequate.
But a technical flaw in that bill, which wasn’t discovered until after it passed both chambers and lawmakers left for a three-week break, would have prevented about $80 million of that money from being distributed to schools.
The question now is whether the Supreme Court will accept the new package as sufficient to meet its constitutional standard of adequacy.
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, said Monday that he does not believe it will satisfy the court. And although he voted in favor of the bill, he also filed what is known as a “constitutional protest” in which he outlined a number of provisions that he said probably will be struck down.
The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in May, when attorneys for the state will try to explain how the funding is “reasonably calculated” to make sure all students are able to attain a certain level of knowledge and skills needed to be ready for college or the workplace by the time they graduate high school.
The court has said it would issue its ruling no later than June 30, and it also has said it will not allow the state to operate schools under an unconstitutional funding formula beyond that date.