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Kansas Legislature Sends Education Funding Bill to Governor - KOAM TV 7

Kansas Legislature Sends Education Funding Bill to Governor

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Topeka, KS -

Working late into Saturday night and early Sunday morning, Kansas lawmakers finally passed an education funding bill it hopes meets the requirements of a Supreme Court mandate to boost spending on public schools. The final day of debate took place with teachers rallying at the capitol. Republican Governor Jeff Colyer publicly endorsed the bill that would phase in a $534 million increase in education funding over five years. That plan got passed first by GOP leaders in the house who largely drafted it.  Senate GOP leaders favored a lesser plan to phase in  a $274 million increase over five years. They approved the larger plan but contend they will have to raise taxes within two years. Senate President Susan Wagle, a conservative Wichita republican said, "We know - absolutely know - if we're going to pay this bill, we're going to have to increase taxes."

Teachers camping out, mostly in red shirts, cheered after the senate approved the bill 21-19 early Sunday. "It is certainly the best bill we've seen," said Kansas National Education Association lobbyist Mark Desetti. "It's time to get something before the court."

But the dispute among Republicans became heated enough that the Legislature's annual session came close to ending abruptly at midnight Saturday.
    
Saturday was the 90th day since lawmakers opened their session in January, the limit set in the state constitution. Two-thirds majorities in both chambers were required to pass a resolution for lawmakers to work past midnight Saturday and reconvene April 26 to wrap up budget matters and other issues. It's normally a routine matter.
    
Had the session ended at midnight, all pending legislation would have died immediately. And GOP leaders remained at odds over the text of the resolution until two minutes before midnight, when a Senate version won the House's approval.

Also included in the education bill is ten  million dollars for a pilot program to team up schools and community mental health centers to treat at risk students. The measure would set aside monies to treat and track two pre-selected groups of children in six school districts across the state.

Two groups of children would be involved in the project proposed by the House. The first is children in state custody, designated as children in need of care, who often have been shuffled from home to home and school to school. The second is children who haven't been frequently relocated, but who require above normal behavioral treatment.
    


    

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