The Kansas Senate passed school finance legislation similar House school finance legislation that will increase school funding by $230 million over the next two years. A conference committee will hammer out differences between the House and Senate versions.
Senators debated the measure for more than eight hours last night and today. In the end, only one Democrat joined 22 Republicans to approve the legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley says both versions fall short of a court requirement to adequately calculate school funding. Hensley said he will file a constitutional protest against the legislation in the Senate journal.
Lawmakers faced a Kansas Supreme Court-mandated deadline of June 30 to adopt a school finance formula. The new formula in both House and Senate bills closely resembles a 1992 school finance formula. Both set base state aid per pupil and then weight students on a variety of factors like at-risk and bilingual students. Weightings for at-risk and bilingual students differ between the legislation adopted by the two houses.
The Senate approved an amendment that will count students from out-of-state as .75 next year and as half a student for funding purposes the following year. The Senate bill also includes a provision to sunset the school finance formula every 10 years.
Both bills provide funding for all-day kindergarten, and both maintain some form of local option budgeting–or taxes that can be raised locally for individual districts.
Once a conference committee hammers out differences between the House and Senate bill, both bodies will be asked to approve the funding formula again.