The state legislature, under an edict of the Kansas Supreme Court to fund K-12 education adequately, passed in the last minutes of this year’s session a $500 million+ measure in new funding to cover the next five years. This will be reviewed by the court for funding adequacy.
The measure was passed after much political partisanship and political gamesmanship during the session. If approved by the court, Governor Jeff Colyer will sign the measure. This distinguishes him from gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, who thinks that the court should be replaced by the legislature as the decision maker in determining what is “adequate” in funding K-12 education. Action on the funding issue was delayed during the session in an attempt by Senate Majority leader Jim Denning and some legislators to gain support for a proposition to be submitted to Kansas voters that would have the legislature and not the court decide what adequate funding is for K-12 education. This did not succeed and Senator Denning apologized for his behavior.
We can expect some hotly contested elections for the legislature and for the governorship this year. Spending, the 2017 tax measure, and this year’s passage of funding for K-12 schools will be the major issues. Will the voters opt to build on the decisions of the last two sessions of the legislature or will they vote for candidates who would return the state to the Brownback years of regular budget shortfalls?