Lawmakers concerned over slow statehouse pace

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TOPEKA, Kan (KSNT)  –  Lawmakers are out of town this weekend after a move to debate school finance failed on the floor of the Kansas House of Representatives Friday. With a Kansas Supreme Court deadline looming ahead some lawmakers are getting antsy.

“You need to see progress, especially with almost 50 new people in the House, they came hear to solve problems and they’re getting a little anxious. What are we going to do,” said Rep. Fred Patton (R-Topeka).

The Kansas Supreme Court has threatened to close schools on July 1 if the legislature does not fix the school funding formula. Now months into the session, a solution has not been debated on the floor of the house or the senate.

“I think the bill is ready. We send it across the street to the court and I think the court’s going to say you did a good job of emphasizing certain areas, but the debate’s going to be how much money,” said Patton.

The current proposed formula only allocates $180 million to school finance, which is hundreds of millions less than was suggested by the lower courts. Patton said the problem is the statehouse is split on how to move forward.

“You don’t have agreement on where to go with tax policy and until that happens it’s hard to figure out how much money you can put through K-12 and how you can adopt a budget,” said Patton.

“The education bill… that needs to be the first bill that we resolve,” said Rep. Jim Gartner (D-Topeka).

Gartner, on the other hand, believes the legislature needs to decide how much money is needed to fix schools and build the budget and taxes around that figure.

Both Gartner and Patton thought the house would be in session through the weekend. Gartner said if major strides aren’t made next week lawmakers will be in Topeka through Memorial Day.

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