Kansas school funding plan meets resistance from districts

Proposal would increase funding by $90 million
Kansas school funding plan meets resistance from districts
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Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan for increasing public education funding has cleared its first hurdle in the Legislature despite unexpected resistance from some school districts.

A Senate committee on school funding approved Kelly’s proposed increase of roughly $90 million a year on a voice vote Wednesday. The support for the Democratic governor’s bill came from the committee’s Republican majority and sent it to the full Senate for debate.

Kelly touts her proposed increase of roughly $90 million a year as a simple way to comply with a Kansas Supreme Court mandate for an increase in education funding. She initially won over Schools for Fair Funding, a coalition of 48 school districts backing an ongoing lawsuit against the state, including the four districts that sued in 2010.

But the group withdrew its support before Kelly’s plan cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday, winning a Senate committee’s approval. An attorney for the school districts said a further review of Kelly’s proposal showed it would fall tens of millions of dollars short each year of satisfying the Supreme Court.

The change of heart is complicating Kelly’s efforts to push the funding increase through the legislature. Fellow Democrats on the Senate committee didn’t support her plan after the coalition withdrew its support.