Gov. Jeff Colyer called on lawmakers Wednesday to work together to fix an $80 million oversight in a public school finance plan passed last weekend with no votes to spare and no shortage of anxiety.
The Kansas Department of Education on Monday revealed the error, which is related to the policy portion of a plan that is supposed to phase in more than $500 million in annual funding increases over the next five years. As passed, the plan falls $80 million short of intended spending in the upcoming school year.
Colyer renewed support for the plan, calling it a common-sense approach, but said he didn’t know whether conservative lawmakers would try to filibuster talks when they return April 16 from a break. The state faces an April 30 deadline from the Kansas Supreme Court to file motions to defend the plan as adequate and equitable.
“This was the original intent of the legislation that was there,” Colyer said. “This is what was in the original House bill. I think that everybody is willing to work. In many ways, this is a technical correction, but we want everybody to work together.”
The governor downplayed the drama leading up to the late-night passage of the plan, which required a last-minute extension of the regular session to break a stalemate between the Senate and House. Senate leaders complained about missing negotiations papers, long-term budget concerns and the loss of programs favored by senators to improve student achievement.
“There were discussions on this for weeks,” Colyer said, “and lots of different organizations, lots of legislators have been discussing various pieces of this for the last three or four weeks. So it’s not just what happened on one particular day. Look at it on the long term. Lots of good folks, lots of robust discussion through there, and we had a process, and it worked.”