New School Funding Plan Approved

(AP) — Kansas legislators have sent Gov. Sam Brownback an education funding plan designed to meet a state Supreme Court order to help poor districts and prevent the justices from shutting down public schools in July.

The House approved the bill Thursday on a 93-31 vote. The Senate approved the bill hours earlier on a 32-5 vote.

The bill redistributes $83 million of the state’s $4 billion-plus in annual aid to its 286 school districts. Total spending on schools would not increase, but no district would lose any of the aid it was promised for the next school year.

The top Democrat in the Kansas House lost his temper during the chamber’s debate on a school funding plan, yelling and pointing at a Republican member who suggested Democrats never offered proposals of their own.

House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs of Kansas City’s unusually intense outburst came as he was responding Thursday to comments from Republican Rep. John Whitmer of Wichita. Burroughs angrily accused Republicans of not supporting schools and said Democrats supported education and schools.

Burroughs pointed in Whitmer’s direction and denounced the Republican as an “ideologist” and “politician.” Republican leaders immediately sprung to their feet to calm Burroughs down as fellow GOP members shouted, “Whoa!” and “No!”

They interrupted Burroughs. He apologized for his breach of decorum but insisted, “I will stand for children.”

The court ruled last month that poor districts weren’t getting their fair share of the aid. The justices gave lawmakers until June 30 to fix the problems or face having schools shut down.