Gov. Sam Brownback met with education officials and some top Republican lawmakers Monday to discuss school finance. The gathering comes as the Kansas Supreme Court considers a lawsuit over education spending and lawmakers prepare for the 2014 legislative session.
Brownback says the closed-door meeting was aimed at bringing together his office, education officials that represent local districts and lawmakers. He says those groups have not always seen eye-to-eye on the issue of education funding, leading to lawsuits.
A group of Kansas lawmakers will begin visiting college and university campuses this week to talk budget issues. The visits come in the wake of nearly $50 million in budget cuts over two years passed by legislators.
Lawmakers have said they want to talk to university officials about efficiency and how they spend money. Gov. Sam Brownback, who opposed the funding cuts, says he wants lawmakers to learn more about the role of higher education in Kansas and the impact of the cuts.
The first Kansas legislative session since 1861 to extend into June is over. But the budget plan passed early Sunday is a frustration for a number of agencies and institutions; one is the Kansas University Medical Center.
Officials aren’t yet sure what the new budget will mean; in a speech this spring, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little worried about a projected cut and the wide reach, particularly on the university’s satellite operations.
Kansas lawmakers are considering a change to the state Constitution in response to lawsuits over school funding.
About eight years ago, a lawsuit ended with an agreement to increase spending on students, but lawmakers cut back when the economy slowed, rekindling the legal battle. Legislators could soon start work on a constitutional amendment, so only they will be able to determine what is a suitable level of funding.