Lawmakers respond to Brownback’s $600M education proposal

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Governor Sam Brownback laid out his priorities for the state during his 8th State of the State Address. During his speech the Governor explained his proposal to solve funding for K-12 education.

“Kansans expect to see students in every school in our state thrive and achieve,” Governor Brownback told the legislature.

Brownback proposed adding an additional $600 million to the budget, over the next five years, for K-12 education.

“This multi-year approach will provide the time necessary for school districts to plan and spend this additional money more effectively,” he said.

The Supreme Court ruled in October that the state wasn’t adequately funding schools.

School Districts have asked for $600 million over three years.

“I think he’s thought through that and felt like maybe the six-hundred million they’ve talked about is the right figure,” said State Rep. Daniel Hawkins, R-Wichita.

“It’s a good starting point, but again we’ve got to find out what the details are and how the money is going to get spent and where it will come from,” explained State Rep. Jarrod Ousley, D-Merriam.

Governor Brownback also suggested, in order to end the litigation cycle, to put a Constitutional amendment on the ballot this year, something lawmakers disagree on.

“I would not support a constitutional amendment, I very seldom draw lines in the sand , but that’s one line I would draw,” said State Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.

“It’s millions of taxpayer dollars feeding just a few lawyers to try an clarify just 15 words so I believe it’s time for the people to actually clarify the language and not the litigation,” explained State Rep. Ty Masterson, R-Andover.

The Governor also laid out five strategic goals for schools.

Those goals include in part; higher pay for teachers, increasing the number of school counselors, offering high school students the choice of taking the ACT at no cost.

“These goals should be achieved within the next five school years,” the Governor explained.

Lawmakers say for his last address, they wish it included more details.

“He talked about bipartisanship and that’s different than the last three that I’ve seen,” added Ousley.

“For his last State of the State speech, it was probably pretty good, but it just didn’t have a whole lot of specifics,” said Hawkins.

Some Senate Republican leaders say Brownback’s increase for K-12 isn’t affordable, but say they’ll have to wait and  see the full budget Wednesday  before deciding how to pay for it.

Many lawmakers have said they are against raising taxes, something the Governor said his plan does not do.

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