Kansas Senate passes Brownback's school funding overhaul - KCTV5

Kansas Senate passes Brownback's school funding overhaul

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Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's $4.1 billion plan to overhaul public school funding passed through the Senate on Monday, but a district court order issued last week signaled that the plan may be blocked before it gets off the ground. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's $4.1 billion plan to overhaul public school funding passed through the Senate on Monday, but a district court order issued last week signaled that the plan may be blocked before it gets off the ground.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's $4.1 billion plan to overhaul public school funding passed through the Senate on Monday, but a district court order issued last week signaled that the plan may be blocked before it gets off the ground.

The three-judge panel issued the order Friday shortly after the school funding plan was passed by the Kansas House, saying it may block changes to the current formula due to a pending case on whether the state is funding schools at constitutionally adequate levels under the formula. An earlier nonbinding ruling by the court said Kansas must spend at least $548 million more on schools.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt called the move "unexpected and unusual" in a statement and said the order "introduces further delays and injects a host of additional constitutional and legal issues."

The school funding overhaul is central to Brownback's policy plans because aid to public schools is the biggest item in the state budget and settling it lays the groundwork for resolving other tax and spending questions. After being narrowly passed by the House, the Senate approved the measure 25-14.

Brownback is expected to sign the bill later this week.

The plan would scrap the current school funding formula, instead giving districts "block grants" based on their current aid for the next two school years, until lawmakers draft a new formula. The governor and other Republicans say the current formula is too complex and directs too much away from classroom learning.

Many educators dislike the block grant plan because the state's 286 school districts would lose $51 million in state aid they expected to receive for the current school year. However, the plan has been lauded by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the state's largest business group, and organizations advocating for conservative economic policies.

Brownback and the GOP-dominated Legislature must also close budget shortfalls projected at nearly $600 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The state's fiscal problems arose after lawmakers aggressively cut personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging to stimulate the economy.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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