School Finance and State Budget

Attorneys for the state and the Legislature faced a barrage of questions from skeptical Kansas Supreme Court justices Tuesday scrutinizing the Legislature’s school finance plan.

Solicitor general Stephen McAllister and Jeff King, a former Senate vice president, sought to fend off claims from school districts that Kansas is doing too little to make up for several years in which budget cuts and funding stagnation became the norm and school budgets fell behind inflation.

The Gannon v. Kansas lawsuit is in its seventh year. In that time, the case has led to repeated rulings against the state for underfunding schools and responses by lawmakers in the form of appropriations bills.

What’s it all about? Here are five issues central to the battle. Significant numbers of Kansas children lack basic math and reading skills.

This is particularly true for students from socioeconomic groups that are historically disadvantaged, including children from low-income families and children from racial and ethnic minorities.

Status of School Finance Bill

This document provides KASB’s policy positions on school funding (first column), the bill as approved by the House (second column), explanation of the Senate substitute bill as recommended by the Senate committee (third column), and KASB’s comments or concerns in the fourth column.

The shedding of low-performing students is the more likely explanation for the few incidences of success with voucher programs. No evidence among privatization studies to refute this plausible argument.

Topeka — The chairman of a House committee charged with crafting a new school finance formula plans this coming week to start reviewing the bills that have been introduced so far, and could open formal hearings on one of the bills as early as Thursday.

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TOPEKA — The budget cuts and tax increases have been called off for now.

Kansas lawmakers headed to the Senate floor early Thursday set to begin debate on legislation that would raise taxes and slash this year’s budget to help balance the state’s finances.

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