School funding suit complicates Kansas budget fix

School Funding Fight
FILE - Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback answers questions from reporters about school funding issues, Friday, April 4, 2014, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Legislators are working on a plan for complying with a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to increase aid to poor school districts. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) — Even before state courts decide whether Kansas spends enough money on public schools, an education funding lawsuit is complicating efforts by legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback to close budget shortfalls.

A three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court expects to rule by the end of December in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by parents of more than 30 students and four school districts. Both sides predict an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The case is affecting state officials’ thinking as they wrestle with predicted budget shortfalls totaling more than $714 million for the current budget year and the one beginning in July.

Aid to public schools is the biggest item in the state’s annual budget. Many legislators are wary of cutting it with the lawsuit pending.

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