GOP leaders end push to pass school finance bill

Kansas Capitol

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican leaders in the Kansas Senate have abandoned an effort to pass legislation to respond to the state Supreme Court’s latest decision on education funding.

Senate President Susan Wagle and Majority Leader Terry Bruce said there would be no debate Wednesday after it became clear during a meeting of GOP senators that they were deeply split.

The Legislature convened Wednesday for the ceremony formally adjourning its annual session.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback would have to call a special session for lawmakers to approve additional education funding changes. But some GOP senators want to defy the court.

The court on Friday rejected some education funding changes made earlier this year and warned that public schools will be unable to reopen again if legislators don’t act by June 30.

Governor Brownback released the following statement:

I will work with the Attorney General and Legislative leadership to respond aggressively and appropriately to any action taken by the Kansas Supreme Court to close our schools.  Kansas has great schools and they should remain open.  The Courts should not be playing politics with our children’s education.

Kansas Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce (R-Nickerson) released the following statement:

The Kansas Supreme Court made the unprecedented move of issuing a politically charged opinion minutes before 5 pm last Friday evening. With five of the seven Supreme Court Justices up for a retention election in November, the court appears to be holding Kansas school children hostage in order to distract the public from the fact that its poor judgment has allowed murderers, rapists and other violent offenders like the Carr brothers off the hook.

Going forward, if the Supreme Court continually threatens to shutdown Kansas schools, Senate Republicans are ready to use the tools at their disposal to ensure schools stay open.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley released the following statement:

Senate Democrats believe taxpayer dollars have just been wasted on an election year charade over which bathroom students should use,” said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley. “Instead, we should have used Sine Die to appropriate the required amount of money – in this case $38 million – to address the school funding equity ruling issued by the Kansas Supreme Court.

We needed to bring the gavel down on the 2016 session having responded to the equity part of the Gannon case. If schools are closed, there won’t be any students using the bathrooms.

The Kansas Senate Republicans released the following statement:

“As members of the Johnson County delegation we find the Supreme Court’s ruling on school finance reckless. The court’s ruling silences Johnson County parents and taxpayers by not allowing them to fund their schools according to their communities’ desires. The court cannot force Legislators to vote in accordance with the court’s political will.

The Kansas Supreme Court is threatening to close schools over a policy decision on how 1.0% of school funding should be distributed. This court ruling is destructive to Johnson County schools in the short term and will impact a generation of Kansas students. This will be damaging to the Johnson County economy, which in turn will negatively affect the state as a whole. We urge our fellow Johnson County citizens to object to this destructive overreach which harms education in our county.”

Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee)                    Greg Smith (R-Lenexa)

Molly Baumgardner (R-Louisburg)                 Rob Olson (R-Olathe)

Julia Lynn (R-Olathe)                                      Jim Denning (R-Overland Park)

Jeff Melcher (R-Leawood)

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