Legislature ends session with budget, including school funds, and tax cuts

Kansas legislators Sunday ended the 2019 session after approving a budget that includes school funding and a tax bill that would reduce revenue by approximately $240 million over three years.

The next battle over K-12 finance will be Thursday when attorneys for the state and plaintiff districts square off before the Kansas Supreme Court over whether SB 16 satisfies the court’s order to provide an inflation adjustment to school funding.

Approved earlier in the session, SB 16 adds $90 million more to the general state education aid of approximately $4 billion, which was contained in the final appropriations bill approved over the weekend. Legislators also added in the final budget about $2 million in previously unspent funds to expand the school mental health initiative and $5 million in school security grants.

Action on that bill was delayed nearly two days because of a fight over whether to expand Medicaid to approximately 150,000 low income Kansans.

Democrats and moderate Republicans tried to force the Senate to vote on an expansion plan endorsed by Gov. Laura Kelly by blocking House approval of the budget. But after three rounds of House votes, moderate Republicans abandoned the effort after GOP leaders promised to prepare an expansion plan during the interim and consider it during the 2020 legislative session.

Before leaving town, GOP leaders pushed through a tax cut that will benefit multinational corporations and wealthy Kansans who itemize deductions on state income tax returns. Another portion of the bill would expand internet sales tax and use that to reduce the state sales tax on food.

In March, Kelly vetoed a similar bill that would have reduced revenue to the state by $500 million over three years. Should Kelly veto the new plan, the Legislature could attempt an override vote on May 29, which is the formal end of the session. A two-thirds majority in the House — 84 votes — and Senate — 27 votes — would override a veto. The bill was approved with 83 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate.

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