Conservatives seek conditions on new Kansas school funds

GOP proposes alternative to Kelly plan
Conservatives seek conditions on new Kansas school funds

If Kansas’ highest court is going to force state lawmakers to boost public education funding again, some conservative Republicans want something in return.

Their list includes a say in how new dollars are spent and a voucher program to allow bullied kids to switch to private schools.

They also seek to require school districts with large cash reserves to burn through some of those reserves instead of relying on state dollars to finance their operations.

A state House committee expects to have hearings this week on an education bill drafted by its conservative chairwoman and introduced Tuesday.

It’s an alternative to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s proposal for an increase of roughly $90 million in the state’s more than $4 billion a year in education funding.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled last year that education funding remains inadequate despite increases in recent years. The state’s attorneys must report in writing by April 15 on how lawmakers addressed the problem.

The state Supreme Court has issued six rulings in the past five years requiring increases in education funding, saying lawmakers have a duty under the state constitution to provide a suitable education for every child.

A 2018 law phased in a $548 million increase in annual funding by the 2022-23 school year. The court said it was inadequate because it did not account for inflation.