Lawmakers react to passage of Education Bill

Posted at 2:01 PM, Apr 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-08 19:50:22-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas Legislature worked to pass a five year, $500 million dollars school funding plan early Sunday morning. 

Kansas senators stayed in Topeka until about 1AM Sunday morning to pass the new funding plan that if approved, will pump $534 million into the school system on July 1.

Last year, the Kansas Supreme Court said the state was not properly funding schools. They gave lawmakers an April 30th deadline to come up with a plan. 

That's part of the reason Democrat Senator Pat Pettey voted for the bill.  As a woman retired from Turner Schools, said she wished it included about $300 million more towards education.  However, she said it was the best option on the table.

"I like many of my colleagues don't think it's enough funding but we at least met our responsibility to bring something forward," said Pettey.

Petty explained the schools have been underfunded since 2009.  She really wished the early childhood initiative had not been cut.

During the week, the house and senate had different opinions on how much money should go to education. 

After much debate the final plan approved by the senate by a close 21-19 vote. 

Now the bill will go to Governor Jeff Colyer’s desk. Colyer backs the plan and is expected to sign the bill. 

Sunday morning Governor Jeff Colyer spoke with 41 Action News about the vote. 

“The budget will be tight…but we can afford this,” said Gov. Colyer. 

However, many still feel it will not meet the threshold set by the state Supreme Court.

"I don't know if the bill is enough to satisfy the court, but we at least need to offer that opportunity and try to get something done. I think our people back home want that," said State Rep. Ed Trimmer, D.

Colyer said it's a good starting place and a good faith effort.  He said he wants to see outcomes in the schools.

"Some of those are ACT scores. We will work on graduation rates. I want to make sure we are ready for jobs of tomorrow," said Colyer.

Some have asked where does the state get that much money. Gov. Colyer says this can be done without raising taxes. 

“The economy is growing, the budget will be tight, but we will be able to get the money needed,” said Colyer. 

He said Kansas' growing economy will pay for it, touting the state's low unemployment rate of 3.4%.

In a statement after the late night passage Colyer said “I am pleased that we were able to compromise and pass a bill that ensures our schools will remain open and are funded adequately and equitably.” 

Colyer said he will sign the bill.