Leadership in the Kansas House was not in favor of Governor Laura Kelly’s plan for the school funding inflation adjustment, but the rank and file in the House, both moderate Republicans and Democrats chose to advance the plan on a 76-47 vote.
“Let me be clear,” said House Speaker Ron Ryckman from the well on Thursday. “I love our schools as much as anyone in this room does. I’m as committed as each of you are to ensuring that every kid in this state has every opportunity to succeed. This vote is not about who loves schools and who does not. This is about whether we want to make promises to our kids that we can keep.”
Ryckman believes committing $360 million over four years is not a promise that can be kept without lots of budget tricks to keep things afloat.
“Six things would have to happen in order for this Legislature and the Governor to keep this promise,” Ryckman said. “First, the Supreme Court would have to rule in favor of funding that isn’t based in their opinion. We will have to raise taxes. We will not be able to lower the food sales tax. We will have to keep the Bank of KDOT open. We will not be able to make our KPERS payments and there cannot be a recession. This is not the kind of promise I can make.”
Though some school advocates believe that this money can finally provide certainty for schools, Ryckman doesn’t agree.
“Our school administrators and teachers have been distracted for over a decade by litigation and school funding fights, not having the certainty they need to plan for their future,” said Ryckman. “Make no mistake, the plan in front of us today will not give our schools the certainty they deserve.”
The plan now goes over for a final vote in the Kansas Senate.