State of the States
Kansas Executive Calls on Lawmakers to Fulfill Commitment to Education
Eight months after the Kansas legislature passed a three-year, $466 million K-12 education spending plan, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius praised lawmakers in her Jan. 10 State of the State address for their efforts, and urged them to fulfill their promise.
“This commitment must be kept, which is why I’m pleased to see strong support in the legislature for funding all three years of the school plan,” the Democrat told lawmakers at a joint session of the legislature.
After the legislature passed the three-year plan last summer, the Kansas Supreme Court dismissed a 7-year-old school finance case brought against the state by several school districts. ("Kansas Court Delivers Mixed Message in School Aid Case," Aug. 9, 2006.) But questions about whether the legislature could fully pay for the measure loomed. The Senate last week overwhelmingly approved a bill that earmarks $122.7 million for the plan’s third year.
Gov. Sebelius, who was elected last fall to a second term, also released her fiscal 2008 budget plan late last week. She recommends spending more than $3 billion on K-12 education, which represents a 12 percent increase over current spending.
With the school finance case resolved, she pressed lawmakers to begin focusing on other initiatives.
“Most children age five and under already spend time out of the home in child care, so it makes sense to provide these children with opportunities to learn and grow in those settings so they’ll be ready to enter school and ready to succeed,” she said in her speech.
Her budget recommends boosting funding for the state’s program for 4-year-olds not served by Head Start or other early-childhood programs. That state program would grow by $1.5 million in fiscal years 2007 and 2008 to more than $15 million. Her budget proposal also includes $15 million in new appropriations for those years to fund all-day kindergarten throughout the state.
As for higher education, Gov. Sebelius also recommends that lawmakers spend a total of $30 million more on scholarships, grants, facility repairs, and other efforts.
Vol. 26, Issue 19, Pages 18-19