TOPEKA — The Kansas Department of Education on Monday unveiled an $80 million error in the school finance plan passed by the Legislature this weekend.
Rep. Fred Patton, a Topeka Republican and chairman of the House committee that produced the bill, said the error is tied to the way local option budgets are calculated as a portion of the state aid. He said the plan was supposed to add about $525 million in funding for public schools over the next five years but failed to include some funding for the upcoming school year that was added in legislation passed last year.
Charts produced by KSDE show a difference of $79.7 million in general state aid between the approved and intended versions of Senate Bill 423. Patton said the Legislature should be able to pass a “technical” correction when it returns on April 26.
“I would hope that everyone would work together to make sure we implement the intent of the Legislature when the bill was passed,” Patton said. “I would give other legislators that courtesy and anticipate they would do the same.”
Lawmakers are under a mandate from the Kansas Supreme Court to produce a plan that is adequate and equitable, and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt faces an April 30 deadline to file motions in defense of the plan.
The Senate and House passed the spending package with no shortage of drama and the minimum number of votes needed in both chambers. Democrats complained the total amount won’t satisfy the high court, and some Republicans complained the spending increase will require a tax increase within two years.