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Kansas House advances school funding plan

TOPEKA, Kansas - The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a plan for boosting aid to poor school districts after Gov. Sam Brownback urged fellow Republicans to support it.

For weeks, lawmakers have been working how to meet a Supreme Court mandate to boost aid to poor districts.

The court said pay $130 million more to schools to equalize funding between rich and poor districts.

"I certainly support the concept of funding, and all of us thought the courts would hold our current statute unconstitutional," said Rep. Jan Pauls.

House members have been trying to get a finance deal done.

The House's 84-36 vote Friday advanced the measure to final action, which was expected later Friday.

Final House approval would clear the way for negotiations with the Senate.

They say almost everyone, including the governor, agree on the $130 million figure, and they agree it has to be done.

Both are designed to satisfy a Kansas Supreme Court order last month directing lawmakers to increase aid to poor districts.

Senators worked until 2 a.m. Friday to pass their version of school finance.

"And come up with a package that makes as few people unhappy as possible. I know that's not going to be easy because everybody has their part of the bill they like, and their part of the bill they hate," said Senator Les Donovan.

Senators are funding $130 million taking much of the money out of the general fund.

They decided against funding cuts for school busing and virtual schools. Those dollars have been restored.

The House plan provides an additional $141 million during the next school year, offsetting the cost with budget adjustments elsewhere.

After Saturday, lawmakers go on a three week break.

When they return, it is for a wrap up session that usually isn't the focus of major policy debate.

 

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