February 22, 2024

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Education Debate Whiplash: Constitutional Amendment Stalled, Funding Debate Next

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The Kansas Senate is expected to take up debate on an education spending bill at some point today. That’s despite a Senate leadership announcement a day earlier that the Senate wouldn’t debate school financing until both the House and Senate passed legislation for a constitutional amendment.

Lawmakers have until April 30 to craft a new school financing formula. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled legislators’ latest school finance mechanism doesn’t adequately calculate funding.

The announcement halted efforts on both the House and Senate floor yesterday, while the House judiciary committee worked a constitutional amendment bill that would give the legislature sole authority over how much funding to provide to public schools. A narrow majority of the committee, 12-10, agreed to forward the legislation to the full House for passage. However, within an hour of its passage, Senate President Susan Wagle and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning issued a statement saying House Speaker Ron Ryckman requested the delay but was unwilling to debate the constitutional amendment on the House floor.

“After wasting two days at the Speaker’s request, we will debate the Senate’s school finance plan tomorrow (Thursday),” the press release reads.

The House adopted a school financing plan that increases school funding by $500 million over the next five years. The plan the Senate will debate today increases school funding by more than $270 million over the next five years, but that could change as Senators amend it during debate.

Lawmakers face a Kansas Supreme Court imposed April 30th deadline to draft a new school financing formula. The Court didn’t say how it would respond if lawmakers failed, but Justices have threatened to close schools in previous school financing rulings.

When Senate reconvenes, the debate can be viewed live here.

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