Political News

The Latest: Kansas House panel adds funds for at-risk kids

Posted May 13

— The Latest on the Kansas Legislature's debate on the state's budget problems and education funding (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

Kansas legislators looking to boost spending on programs for at-risk public school students have decided to be more generous than previously planned.

A House committee worked Friday on a bill that would phase in a $783 million increase in annual aid to public schools over five years.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in March that the state's funding for its 286 local school districts is inadequate. The court said helping under-performing students is a key issue.

The bill initially had a lower total cost, but committee members voted Friday to add an additional $21 million for programs for students who are at risk of failing. That's an extra $111 per student for the 2017-18 school year.

The committee hopes to vote on the entire plan Monday.

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1:45 p.m.

Kansas legislators have advanced a proposal that would help the state a little with its budget problems by closing sales tax exemptions while promising a future reduction in the tax on groceries.

The House gave first-round approval to the measure Friday on a voice vote. It expects to take a final vote Monday.

The measure would raise $115 million over the next two years by applying the state's 6.5 percent sales tax to a few services such as towing, security, pet boarding and non-residential cleaning.

Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019. The bill would lessen the need to increase other taxes.

But new revenue would be offset starting in July 2020 by a reduction in the sales tax on groceries to 5.5 percent.

(This item has been corrected to show the House tax bill would cut sales tax on groceries to 5.5 percent, not 6.4 percent.)

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7:15 a.m.

Kansas legislators are hoping to advance a proposal to increase spending on public schools even though some lawmakers question whether it would be adequate.

A special House committee planned to vote Friday on a bill that would phase in a $762 million increase in aid to the state's 286 local school districts over five years.

The bill also creates a new per-student formula for distributing the money to see that enough goes to programs for at-risk students.

Kansas spends more than $4 billion a year on aid to its public schools. But the state Supreme Court ruled in March that education funding is inadequate.

Lawmakers must also close projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019. They expect to raise income taxes but haven't settled on a plan.

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