House Speaker Ron Ryckman says he doesn’t have a plan to reduce public school funding, contradicting the allegation made Thursday by Democratic leadership.
However, his office said there would be no comment from Ryckman, R-Olathe, on whether he supports the spending levels put in place a year ago.
Last year’s Legislature passed a bill to phase in a $521 million increase in K-12 spending over five years. The Kansas Supreme Court determined the plan was acceptable if inflation calculations were adjusted, offering a potential resolution to years of legal drama on the issue.
Lawmakers now are wrangling over the implication of the court ruling, which could require an additional $90 million commitment.
House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita, said Ryckman was informing GOP colleagues that he plans to reduce funding from last year’s plan by $200 million. Ryckman said Friday he was surprised by Sawyer’s claims.
The speaker also took a shot at Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan to reamortize the state pension plan as a way to reduce yearly contributions.
“I’m not aware of any plan to cut Kansas schools besides the Democrats’ plan to cut $150 million a year from teachers’ retirement,” Ryckman said in a statement. “In fact, during my time as speaker, we have increased funding for schools by nearly $490 million. We will work towards a plan that is structurally sound for the long term and we welcome all ideas. It’s time to be less political and more productive.”
His office said Ryckman hasn’t prepared any school finance plan and refused to say whether he supports the funding in last year’s legislation.