school funding

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It's a struggle today for college students to pay their tuition. As costs continue to rise, states are backing away from funding higher education. Steve Kraske talks with the co-author of a recent report on this very problem. They look at why lawmakers in so many states are turning their backs on helping students get their degrees.

Learn More: Find out who pays for public higher education, the state or the student.

Dignitaries applaud as Governor Sam Brownback signs a bill lowering employers' unemloyment insurance costs.
Steve Bell

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback was in kansas City, Kansas Tuesday for the official signing of a bill that substantially reduces the percentage rate employers are required to pay into the state's Unemployment Trust Fund.

Brownback used the occasion to tout what he called a call, growing Kansas economy.

"People have said you can't cut taxes, create a business-friendly environment and fund state government," he said, adding, "Well, yes you can, and we are."

After the ceremony, the governor also commented on several bills on or soon coming to his desk.

Attorneys for the group that sued Kansas over school funding have issued a statement critical of the plan the Legislature sent to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback Sunday.

Attorney John Robb expressed concerns that the plan shifts money from some programs for at-risk students, allows more well-to-do districts to increase local funding, and reduces revenues that could go for schools by offering tax credits for private school scholarships.

The Kansas House has passed an education spending bill on a bipartisan 91-31 vote. The measure includes around $100 million in additional education funding. The bill would create an education study committee and would change teacher certification rules.

"This is a very good combination of strong policy that will help our schools use money efficiently or give us ideas. And it's a strong policy in meeting the court's test that they want us to equalize our funding here in the state," says Rep. Marvin Kleeb, a Republican from Overland Park.

The Kansas Senate has advanced a plan to respond to a state Supreme Court ruling on education funding.

The court said lawmakers created inequalities between school districts by cutting certain types of education funds. The bill would shift money into funds aimed at reducing those disparities. Dollars would be moved from school transportation as well as other areas of the budget.

Sen. Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, said they are prioritizing spending.

The Kansas House Appropriations Committee will start hearings Monday on a budget bill to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling over education funding. But it looks like the issues in the bill will stretch beyond just school spending.

The budget bill before the committee includes other policy items like rewriting teacher licensure rules. Chairman Marc Rhoades, a Newton Republican, told committee members last week about the broad scope of the discussion.

Work on education funding bills continues in the Kansas Statehouse. The legislation is being considered in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that said there are unconstitutional funding disparities between school districts.

Lawmakers are expected to start work this week on a solution, but committee work Monday was delayed.

Republican Sen. Ty Masterson from Andover  says they're not yet in a position to begin work on a proposal.

This week, a Kansas House committee could consider a bill to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling on education funding. It comes after the process got off to a rocky start last week.

The bill would increase money for certain education funds that are aimed at reducing disparities between districts. But the bill includes other education policy changes, and the lawmaker who introduced it included an expansion of charter schools in the proposal.

It's not clear how lawmakers will comply with a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that says the state has created inequalities between schools districts. The ruling says lawmakers violated the Kansas Constitution by cutting funds that help equalize school district budgets.

The group that filed that lawsuit, and some lawmakers, say they believe the solution is to restore more than $100 million in education funds.

Analyzing The Kansas School Funding Ruling

Mar 7, 2014
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This morning, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that a lower court will deal with what it called unconstitutional inadequate funding for the state's K-12 schools.

On Friday's Up to Date, we take a look at what the 110-page ruling will mean for school funding, how the lower court might handle the the details and how all this affects this fall's race for the governor's office.

Guests:

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The Kansas Supreme Court ruled unanimously Friday that the state needs to increase funding for public K-12 schools, but sent the decision back to the Shawnee County District Court to enforce.

The Kansas Supreme Court will hand down a decision Friday in a lawsuit over school funding and the potential impact could be hundreds of millions of dollars.

A group made up of school districts and parents says Kansas is not living up to its constitutional responsibility to fund education. They say the state has reneged on promises to increase spending.

Those promises followed a previous lawsuit over school funding. Lawyers for the state say it is up to legislators, not the courts, to decide how much to spend on schools.

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Coming out of his State of the State call for more education spending, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon brought his case to Kansas City and a younger audience with a stake in the future. 

The forum was an assembly of some 700 Center High School students.

The Governor tried to break down staggering financials to something a less sophisticated economics mind would understand, telling students the system can open more than a local earnings’ future, to world-wide.

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The 2014 Kansas legislative session kicks off Monday, and Gov. Sam Brownback says education is at the top of his priorities, including his recently unveiled reading initiative and instituting statewide full-day kindergarten. 

"I think the public wants to see us produce high-quality products, here from government. And the core function of state government is education," Brownback said in an exclusive interview. "We put over half of our state general fund in K-12, but we need to see it produce and not just put money in. And, not ask for any results."

The Kansas Supreme Court generally issues rulings on Fridays, so many people in the Kansas Legislature were watching to see if the court would release its opinion in a controversial school finance case Friday.

The justices did not, so lawmakers are likely to start the legislative session on Monday without a decision in the case.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, says the case could prompt lawmakers to consider rewriting the state's school funding formula.

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.

Kansas spends more money on education that any other item in the state budget, and education funding will likely be the dominant issue when lawmakers convene the legislative session in January.

A state court has already ordered lawmakers to spend more on education. And soon, the Kansas Supreme Court will issue its own ruling on a lawsuit that claims the state has been shortchanging public schools. All of this led lawmakers to spend two days last week studying up on school funding.

The formula

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.

A lower court's order saying Kansas must add at least $440 million a year to funding for public schools is now in the hands of the Kansas Supreme Court. Attorneys for both sides spent more than three hours Tuesday making their arguments.

Solicitor General Stephen McAllister told the court the judicial system can declare laws unconstitutional, but it doesn’t have the authority to tell the legislature how much they must budget for education.

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Debate over Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of an income tax bill was fierce in the Missouri House and the governor prevailed. 

The Republican majority was unable to muster the votes to make the $700 million tax cut into law.

The measure would have cut business taxes in half. Personal taxes would have been cut disproportionately.

Clay County Democrat Jon Carpenter called it unfair.

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.

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The top Democrats in the Legislature say lawmakers should have a hand in mediation in a case over school funding. They say they'll file a motion making that argument this week.

New Regulations Change Access To Research

Mar 1, 2013
Goldmund100

Due to a new White House directive, results from federally-funded research will be easier to access publicly.

The Kansas Supreme Court today has put on hold a decision from a district court that ordered Kansas lawmakers to hike spending on public schools.

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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.

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Testimony in the Kansas school finance trial will draw to a close today as lawyers in the case call their final witnesses.

Kansas Senate Leader Testifies In School Finance Case

Jun 26, 2012
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The trial in the ongoing school finance lawsuit is continuing this week, with a leading member of the Kansas Senate testifying on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Some Kansas School Districts On The Brink

Jun 20, 2012
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A top official at the Kansas State Department of Education says recent budget cuts have pushed some school districts to the brink of insolvency.

Steve Walker

The Kansas school finance trial enters its third week. A plan to replace Medicaid in Kansas drew criticism at its first public hearing.  It’s a double dose of Shakespeare in Kansas City.  That & more news from KCUR.

Kansas School Finance Trial Continues

Jun 19, 2012
Peter Hancock / Kansas Education Policy Report

The trial resumes today in the school finance lawsuit where 54 school districts are claiming the state of Kansas is under-funding public education.

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