The school finance issue is still in front of the Kansas Legislature, even though Attorney General Derek Schmidt had hoped to get a plan from the body by the end of last week so he could begin preparing briefs for an April deadline. Former House Majority Leader and long-time Republican legislator Don Hineman isn’t sure which way it’s going to go, yet.
“This is the stage of the session when the negotiation really takes place on the big issues,” said Hineman. “Everything up until now has been preliminary. It’s time to work it out. The Supreme Court has given us a deadline that is fast approaching. We can’t dawdle much longer.”
There is the Governor’s plan, which has been supported by the state Department of Education. It has already passed the Senate and a hearing was held this week in the House. There’s also a competing Republican plan that does more targeting of the new money and puts less toward the BASE formula.
“Which plan survives and gets passed into law, I think it’s too early to tell,” said Hineman. “Then, we’ll wait for the Supreme Court’s decision, which is getting to be more frustrating to many of us, even those of us who support public education very strongly.”
The decision by the plaintiffs from Schools for Fair Funding to walk away from the Governor’s plan has had a negative effect on legislators.
“The four schools that sued before all of a sudden decided that wasn’t enough money,” said Hibbard. “I think most of the Legislature was shocked that happened.”
The Legislature is scheduled for first adjournment on April 6, but with so little legislation having been brought forward, it’s possible they could get done even sooner than that, if they can get K-12 funding resolved.