TOPEKA, Kan (KSNT) – The Kansas Legislature is facing three main challenges moving into the second half of the 2017 session. The state is looking at an over $1 billion budget shortfall through June 2019. That financial crisis is affecting debates over taxes and school finance.
“After nine cuts, three credit downgrades and three tax increases, our budget is still structurally unbalanced… and as a result the piece of business we do the most work for, our school system, is out of compliance constitutionally,” Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita).
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that lawmakers needed to invest more money in education. Ward believes the legislature needs to get to work on the school finance formula right away; however, Senate leadership disagrees.
“We have a current shortfall in this fiscal year we have to also address 2018 and 2019, so in the senate, we would like to address the budget stability first before we move on to school finance,” said Sen. Susan Wagle (R-Wichita).
The court gave the legislature until June 30 to come in compliance with their ruling. Senate republicans will meet after the senate gavels in Tuesday to look closer at the Supreme Court ruling.