Colyer provides framework but no specifics on school finance

Gov. Jeff Colyer on Wednesday provided a “framework” on school finance but added he doesn’t want a tax increase and he seemed to back off the $600 million, five-year proposal that his predecessor Sam Brownback proposed. 

In a speech before a joint meeting of the House and Senate, Colyer noted the past 10 Kansas governors have dealt with school finance litigation. “This must end now,” said Colyer, who was sworn-in as governor last week to replace Brownback, who has become ambassador at large for international religious freedom in the Trump administration. 

Colyer noted that in Brownback’s State of the State delivered last month, some legislators chaffed at Brownback’s departing school finance plan to address the Kansas Supreme Court ruling that the current K-12 finance system is inadequate. 

Colyer said instead of making a specific proposal to the Legislature, he will sign school finance legislation that fits within his framework. He said the bill must keep schools open, end the lawsuit, phase-in increased spending without a tax increase and require more accountability and improved school outcomes. 

Colyer, who served as lieutenant governor for seven years under Brownback, promised to change the tone of state government, vowing more transparency, accountability and collaboration with the Legislature. “Our best days are ahead of us,” he said. During his first week in office, Colyer has reorganized the governor’s office, made some Cabinet changes and signed an executive order aimed at curtailing sexual harassment in the executive branch. 

Much of his speech was devoted to health and social service problems that have plagued the state, from drug addiction to missing children who had been placed in foster care to reduced mental health services. Colyer also said he will push for a “re-employment plan” that will help provide the skills workers need to find good-paying jobs.  

On education, Colyer said, “On my first day as governor, I had the opportunity to visit a public school in my hometown of Hays. I want educators and teachers in this state to know that your governor is a supporter of public education.” 

He said the state should invest in education, not because the court has ordered it, but because school spending is an investment in the future of the state. 

 

 

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