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The Latest: Kansas Senate GOP leaders drop demand on schools

April 5, 2018

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on the Kansas Legislature’s debate over education funding (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

The Kansas Senate’s top two Republicans have dropped an ultimatum that lawmakers move to curb the power of the courts before increasing spending on public schools.

Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita and Majority Leader Jim Denning of Overland Park said Wednesday that their chamber will debate an education funding plan Thursday.

Wagle and Denning had said the Senate would not consider any plan until lawmakers put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot to strip the courts of their power to declare the state’s total education funding inadequate.

But House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. of Olathe said his chamber would not debate such an amendment this week.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in October that the state’s current funding of more than $4 billion a year was insufficient.

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5:55 p.m.

A Kansas House committee has approved a proposed state constitutional amendment to limit the courts’ power to decide education funding questions.

But the Judiciary Committee’s 12-10 vote Wednesday showed supporters will struggle to get the two-thirds majority necessary to pass the proposal in the full House.

The measure would strip the courts of their power to determine whether the state’s spending on education is adequate and leave the decision to legislators.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in October that the state’s current education funding of more than $4 billion a year is not sufficient under the state constitution.

The House has passed a plan to boost education funding. But top GOP leaders in the Senate have said they won’t consider any increase until a constitutional amendment goes on the ballot.

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11:55 a.m.

A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer says he would sign a public school funding plan approved by the Kansas House if lawmakers sent it to him.

Spokeswoman Kara Fullmer made the comment Wednesday after Colyer praised the House proposal to phase in a roughly $520 million increase in education funding over five years.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in October that the state’s current education funding of more than $4 billion a year is not sufficient under the state constitution.

Colyer has said repeatedly that lawmakers should approve a plan aimed at satisfying the court before taking an annual 2½-week spring break scheduled to start Saturday.

But the Senate’s two top GOP leaders strongly criticized the House plan Tuesday, saying the state could not afford it without raising taxes.

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