Kansas lawmakers are preparing to open their annual session facing a court mandate to boost spending on public schools with little appetite to do what could be necessary to pay for it.
The Republican-controlled Legislature is scheduled to convene Monday afternoon for mostly ceremonial meetings to start the traditional 90-day clock. Gov. Sam Brownback, still waiting confirmation for an federal ambassador’s post on International Religious Freedom, will give the annual State of the State address Tuesday evening. He will lay out budget proposals on Wednesday.
The big question ahead of Brownback’s speech is what he will propose as a response to the state Supreme Court’s ruling in October that Kansas’ total aid to its 286 school districts of about $4.3 billion a year is insufficient under the state constitution. Brownback promised to have a plan but has yet to release any details.
Many legislators are frustrated because they approved a school funding law last year that phased in a $293 million aid increase over two years. They also raised income taxes by roughly $600 million per year to help pay for it and balance the state budget. Overriding Brownback’s veto of a bill that rolled back past tax cuts he had championed going back to 2012.