Lawmaker Says Public School Promise Helped Reach Kansas Budget Deal

An influential Olathe state legislator, Joint Budget Chairman Ron Ryckman, thinks a pledge not to cut more Kansas school money helped get a midnight budget approved.

Lawmakers worked until early Monday morning before producing a new budget for the state.

Ryckman says the pledge to make no further cuts in public school money was important.

“Well, we’re happy that we could keep out promise on K-thru-12, that their funding remains stable and secure, Ryckman said.

The Joint Budget Chairman says lawmakers cobbled together a “hybrid” of budget options to send to Republican Governor Sam Brownback.

Brownback’s administration had offered legislators a set of three option when they returned to Topeka last week for the wrap-up session.

Those options includes another cut in public education, which was rejected..

The budget bill also gives the Governor leeway to sweep $185 from the highway funds.. That would delay 25 major projects for three years. None of the projects, however, are in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

A $96 million payment to the state’s pension fund could also be delayed.

Higher Education would also face a 3% reduction. That is more than $17 million.

That includes about $1 million in cuts to both Kansas university and Kansas State.

A spokeswoman for the Kansas Board of Regents says the May meeting of the Board would likely discuss the possibility of a tuition increases.

Above the entire budget process looms a ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court on the state’s method of spending on public education.

The Justices ruled the state’s financing system does not treat rich and poor school systems fairly.

The High Court is threatening to declare the school finance system unconstitutional, and shut down every public school in Kansas on July 1.

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