Hensley: Democrats propose real school finance solution

By Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley

House and Senate Democrats rolled out a proposal last week in response to the Supreme Court’s equity order in the Gannon lawsuit, the reason the Kansas Legislature is headed into a special session (on June 23).

The Legislature has been given not one, not two, but three opportunities by the courts to find a solution, but failed each time. And, just last week the House and Senate Judiciary Committees convened for two days where they wasted time and taxpayer dollars discussing an amendment to unnecessarily change the Kansas Constitution along with other ways to go about not solving the real problem.

What we propose is to go back to the previous school finance formula to equalize the Local Option Budget and appropriate a little more than $39 million from the following revenue sources:

  • Virtual school funding for full-time students frozen at the 2014-15 level
  • Extraordinary need state aid
  • Tax credit for private school scholarships
  • Unused job creation program funds
  • Idle funds in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

This is a real solution to the equity order that will ensure schools open in the fall, but we understand there is still more work to be done to create and fully fund a new school finance formula.

It is beyond time for us to get back to address the real problem so that all children, no matter where they live in Kansas, have access to a quality education next school year. This is what Kansans want us to do.

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