Kansas Lawmakers Have a Full Plate
April 27, 2016

(AP) – Kansas lawmakers must close shortfalls in the current and next state budgets totaling $290 million after returning from their annual spring break.

The Legislature was reconvening Wednesday morning. It was only a week after state officials and university economists issued new, more pessimistic forecast that slashed revenue projections through June 2017.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback plans to divert highway funds to general government programs and delay major road projects. He also expects to cut higher education spending.

He’s proposed selling off part of the state’s annual payments from a national legal settlement with tobacco companies to generate a one-time infusion of cash.

Lawmakers have been cold to the idea. As alternatives, he’s suggested delaying contributions to public employee pensions or making $139 million in spending cuts.

Kansas Approves Some Extraordinary Aid for Schools
November 9, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and top Kansas lawmakers Monday approved a total of $4.2 million in emergency aid for 25 school districts to help them with young refugees, increased student numbers or local economic problems.

Brownback and eight leaders of the GOP-dominated Legislature gave the districts about 66 percent of the $6.5 million worth of “extraordinary needs” funds they sought.

A school funding law enacted earlier this year gives the governor and legislative leaders the power to distribute up to $12.3 million in emergency aid in the current school year. Brownback and the lawmakers convened three days after the Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments from attorneys on whether the new law complies with the state constitution — and whether the state immediately owes its 286 school districts an additional $54 million.

The new funding law junked an old, per-student formula for distributing aid to school districts that Brownback and other GOP critics said was confusing and didn’t put enough money into classrooms. The new law gives districts stable “block grants” but many educators don’t think the funding is sufficient, and there’s bipartisan criticism of requiring districts to ask top state officials for extra dollars.

Kansas Hands Out “Extraordinary Need” School Money
August 24, 2015

. (AP) – Several school districts in Kansas get less than half the emergency aid they were seeking under measures a state panel approved.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1Jh6wZE ) 38 districts, including some of the state’s largest, were vying for $12.3 million in emergency funds that had been allotted by lawmakers for this purpose last March. The districts had submitted requests for aid totaling $15.07 million.

The State Finance Council, which includes Gov. Sam Brownback and eight legislative leaders, granted about $2 million total to 13 school districts experiencing considerable growth in student enrollment this year.

The panel granted another $4 million to 22 districts that lost local revenue for this school year because of declines in the valuation of oil and gas properties. Most of those districts are in western Kansas.

Davis Predicts School Cuts if Brownback Re-elected
September 2, 2014

(AP) — Democratic challenger Paul Davis predicted Tuesday that state aid for Kansas public schools will be cut if Republican Gov. Sam Brownback wins re-election this year, but Davis didn’t outline a specific plan to boost education funding.

Davis had a news conference Tuesday in the library of Lowman Hill Elementary School in Topeka to declare education funding will be his top priority if he’s elected. Brownback pushed successfully for personal income tax cuts worth $4.1 billion collectively through mid-2018 to stimulate the economy. The state has already cut its top income tax rate by 26 percent and exempted the owners of 191,000 businesses from personal income taxes.

Critics contend the reductions are jeopardizing the state’s financial health.

The Legislature’s nonpartisan research staff projects a $238 million budget shortfall by July 2016, and neither candidate has outlined a specific plan for closing it. Davis has said he wants to restore school funding to levels promised in 2008, before the state felt the Great Recession, but he refused Tuesday to outline how or when the state would provide the additional hundreds of millions of dollars.

Brownback Meets with some Kansas School Leaders
November 26, 2013

(AP) – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says a meeting with legislators and a small group of Kansas school superintendents has laid the foundation for future dialogue on public education.

Brownback met for more than an hour in his office Monday with House and Senate Republican leaders, superintendents and the president of the Kansas Association of School Boards.

The governor convened the gathering to start what he hopes is a conversation about academic performance and avoiding future lawsuits over state funding for schools. He says more meetings are expected.

Superintendents said they found Monday’s meeting productive and that all parties shared the goal of doing what’s best for the state’s 450,000 public school students