Kansas House panel struggles with schools plan

Kansas Statehouse (AP Photo/John Milburn)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – The Latest on the Kansas Legislature’s debate over raising taxes to fix the state budget and provide additional funds for public schools (all times local):

3 p.m.

A Kansas House committee has approved a proposal to phase in a $280 million increase in spending on public schools over two years after whittling down a larger funding plan.

The special committee on school finance’s 10-6 vote sends the education funding bill to the House for debate. It’s a response to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in March that education funding is inadequate.

The state spends about $4 billion a year on aid to its 286 local school districts. The court did not say how much more the state must spend.

The committee started Monday with a plan to phase in a $783 million increase over five years.

Some members questioned whether lawmakers would boost taxes enough to pay for it. Others said the committee’s plan is inadequate.

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1:40 p.m.

A Kansas House committee is struggling to come to agreement on how much an education funding proposal should increase aid to the state’s public schools.

A special committee on school finance started Monday with a plan that would phase in a $783 million increase in spending on public schools over five years. The proposal is a response to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in March that the state’s education funding is inadequate.

Committee members were debating smaller alternatives that included a plan to phase in a $483 million increase over three years.

The court didn’t say in its ruling how much education funding must increase. Some worried that the most generous plan wouldn’t satisfy the justices. Others said lawmakers won’t increase taxes enough to sustain even a smaller plan.

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10:27 a.m.

Kansas legislators have advanced a proposal to raise a modest amount of new revenue by imposing the state’s sales tax on some services while promising a future cut in the tax on groceries.

The House approved the measure Monday on a 78-42 vote. It goes next to the Senate.

The bill would raise about $110 million over two years. The state faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019 and passing the measure would lessen the need for other tax increases.

The tax bill would impose the 6.5 percent sales tax on a few services including towing and pet boarding. It would cut the tax on groceries to 5.5 percent in July 2020.

The tax vote as a House committee considered a bill increasing spending on public schools.


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