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Kansas Lawmakers May Adjourn 2016 Session Before School Funding Ruling

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio
Kansas Republican House Speaker Ray Merrick.

The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments next month in a school funding lawsuit. At issue is whether Kansas lawmakers have complied with a previous ruling that says funding disparities need to be reduced.

Republican House Speaker Ray Merrick says he isn’t planning on waiting for the ruling before ending the session. He believes legislators helped reduce disparities when they redistributed school funding.

“I think we’ve done our job. I think it’s a good bill. Is equity ever going to be solved? I don’t think you can ever solve equity,” Merrick says.

Lawmakers return to Topeka in late April for the last part of the 2016 session. Democratic Rep. John Wilson suspects if they leave town for good they’ll be back to tackle the issue with a special session.

“One way or another, we’re going to be spending time working on it, because I have a sense that the court will say that what the Legislature passed and what conservatives passed isn’t up to muster,” Wilson says.

Supreme Court justices have threatened to close Kansas schools if lawmakers don’t reduce funding disparities between districts.

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.