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K-12, Higher Education Funding Discussed At Second Legislative Forum

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Abigail Beckman
/
KMUW
John Allison, superintendent of Wichita Public Schools, speaks to area lawmakers at a public forum Thursday at Wichita State University.

Legislators from south-central Kansas gathered Thursday at Wichita State University for a public forum, the second one this week.

The forum began with a look at the state's projected $350 million budget shortfall for this fiscal year.

J.G. Scott, assistant director of fiscal affairs for the Kansas Legislative Research Department, told lawmakers that neither reversing the state's income tax exemptions nor increasing sales tax rates would fill the hole for 2017.

He gave two options for balancing the budget.

"It would either be one-time revenue that you find...or cuts," Scott said.

Wichita Public Schools Superintendent John Allison addressed lawmakers and acknowledged what he called a "daunting task" ahead of them in creating a new school funding formula. The state's current block grant funding system expires this year. Allison said the current system has resulted in flat funding for the Wichita district, despite increasing costs.

"What that really means is that we have to begin to look, as the comment was made earlier, at cuts," he said.

The Legislature convenes on Monday, Jan. 9, in Topeka to begin this year's legislative session. 

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Follow Abigail Beckman on Twitter @AbigailKMUW.

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