The five-year school funding bill plan passed by lawmakers in a midnight vote last weekend contains a nearly $80 million error in the first year, according to the Kansas State Department of Education.
The plan is supposed to provide school districts with $150 million in new funding next year. Because of the error, the actual size of the increase is about $72 million.
The error lowers the size of the increase to Wichita schools by about $8 million next year, according to projections from KSDE. For Kansas City, Kan., schools, the size of the error is nearly $3 million.
The bill was intended to boost school funding by $500 million over five years. Although the size of the error over five years is unknown, it could significantly reduce the size of the overall plan.
KSDE said on its website that an error had been discovered in the bill affecting general state aid to school districts. The agency produced projections for what school districts would receive under the plan the Legislature intended to pass and what they actually approved.
The Legislature approved SB 423 in a dramatic vote after midnight Sunday. The bill passed the House and Senate with the bare minimum number of votes needed.
The bill is the Legislature’s response to a Kansas Supreme Court decision last fall that found schools are inadequately funded. The court has required lawmakers to submit a plan to adequately fund schools by April 30.
The error will likely require lawmakers to vote on a revised version of the bill when they return later this month. That would give opponents of the school funding plan a potential opportunity to try again to defeat it.
“I think it opens up the opportunity for that, but I would hope everybody would understood what our intent was and that they would cooperate and help us put that intent into place,” said Rep. Fred Patton, a leading Republican on school finance issues.
Patton said he didn’t know what exactly the error is and said that at this point, he doesn’t want to blame anyone.
Gov. Jeff Colyer has spoken positively about the bill. Spokesman Kendall Marr said Monday that the governor will still sign the bill and “will work with the Legislature to correct the error when they return.”
Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said in a statement it is not unusual for a mistake to occur "when the committee process is circumvented and new language is inserted on the floor." Wagle opposed the bill, which was proposed as a floor amendment in the House.
"We will have our attorneys look at the problem in the morning to see what the best remedy would be," Wagle said.