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Republican school-finance bill doesn’t keep funding timeline, even with same amount

The difference in the Republican school-finance bill that will be heard in committee next week and the one already out there from Governor Laura Kelly is about budget priorities, not necessarily raw dollars.

“This bill puts in roughly the same amount of money and the additional money that the State Board and Governor Kelly
recommended for the next two years,” said Mark Tallman, Vice President for Advocacy with the Kansas Association of School Boards. “What it does is eliminate any increases for the following two years.”

Even though it could be argued that it is not the job of the current Legislature to obligate future Legislatures, this could complicate the state’s case before the Kansas Supreme Court.

“It doesn’t mean the Legislature won’t do it,” said Tallman. “I think, what it does, is it’s changing what the Legislature passed last year and offered to the Court as the way to get to suitable funding.”

If this plan that makes policy as well as funding changes becomes the plan that is used, it’s likely that the Attorney General’s office will have to ask for an extension from the court to get its work done.

“It simply underfunds what the Legislature itself, what the state’s case was last year,” said Tallman. “That’s the problem. There’s not an absolute guarantee, but this means that the Attorney General is not even going to be able to say, here’s what our plan is, here’s our commitment. Here’s what’s in law. It takes all of that out.”

Briefs are supposed to be filed by April 15 in the case.

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