KS school funding: Districts wonder how lawmakers will find $600 mil without raising taxes

Posted at 5:59 PM, Jan 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-12 19:16:26-05

KANSAS -- School districts and lawmakers are reacting after Kansas Governor Sam Brownback vocalized a need for an increase in school funding – something they've said for years.

"It was very positive to hear the governor talking about the need for additional funding for public schools because we believe the same thing," Spokesperson for KCK Public Schools David Smith said.

In his latest State of the State address, Brownback called for $600 million dollars more in school funding over the next five years with no tax increases - but did not say how the state would pay for most of it.  

"The devil is in the details, and is what's being proposed all new money? Or does it count the money that was appropriated last session? So, that would make a difference," Smith said.    

The $600 million is included in the Brownback’s budget proposal for the year. Lawmakers on both sides say the budget doesn't balance, and highly doubt they could meet the funding goal without raising taxes.  

"Essentially ends our highway program, sweeps other programs designed for early education, and in many cases, was a very vindictive and mean-spirited budget and not realistic," Republican Rep. Stephanie Clayton said Friday.  

School districts wonder if distributing the $600 million in increments will actually end up hurting them, instead of helping.  

"By the end of five years, you're going to be $300 million below where you should be just from inflation, so we need to take that into account," Smith said. "Inflation alone adds an additional $60 million to the cost of public schools every year."  

There is optimism that the bipartisanship employed in 2017 to come up with school money will help the state in 2018.

"We have a good history of working around the governor when he's being unreasonable, as he has been in this most recent proposal," Clayton said.

Brownback's budget director, Shawn Sullivan, said they're relying on high state revenues to help the budget "situation."