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State Lawmakers Resume Talks Over Education Funding

State lawmakers are resuming their talks about education funding.

A Kansas Supreme Court ruling last week said the state has created inequalities between schools districts and that lawmakers violated the Kansas Constitution by cutting funds that help equalize school district budgets.

The group that filed that lawsuit, and some lawmakers, say the solution is to restore more than $100 million dollars in education funds.

Democratic House Representative and governor candidate Paul Davis says Kansas has fallen short.

"The state has not met its obligation to fund Kansas schools in an equatable way," Davis says. "It is time for us to set it right and to fund our classrooms."

Republican lawmakers say they are happy with the outcome because it gives lawmakers options, like rewriting the equity laws or pursuing another solution.

Governor Brownback hailed the decision because it doesn't directly order legislators to spend more on education.

"Overall, I'm quite pleased with the decision," Brownback says. "It says schools should be measured by performance and outcomes, not by just money spent; it focuses on equity."

The Supreme Court did not rule on the larger issue of whether Kansas is adequately funding education. Justices say a lower court used the wrong test to determine adequacy, so the lower court will have to consider it again.

Lawmakers have until July 1st to fix the problems, which the state Department of Education says could cost as much as $129 million dollars.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.