A committee has advanced a Senate plan to increase funding for schools.
The bill, SB 450, would add $112 million in funding for schools over the next two fiscal years. It would put half that amount toward equalizing school funding among districts. For example, a smaller district in Kansas might need state funding in order to meet the base state aid per student, while a larger district might be able to fund each student with its local property tax.
The bill also would add $37 per student in funding statewide.
It won approval in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday and next will be considered by the full Senate.
The committee did not address where the $112 million would come from, particularly as the legislature talks about cutting sales tax and income tax.
The bill moves forward without a section that sought to raise the cap on property tax funding for schools to 35 percent of state financial aid by 2013-14. The cap now is set at 31 percent.
“I don’t think we have climbed out of the recession, and people are concerned with the property tax increase,” said Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita.
“I likewise have been in opposition to raising property taxes,” said Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City. “Property tax is not the way.”
But others said giving school districts the ability to increase local property taxes would be beneficial for education. Johnson County school districts have sought that ability for some time.
“The rest of the state is not willing to do what is best for our education,” said Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park.