As of Friday morning, it looked as though the school funding fix brokered by Sen. Ty Masterson and Rep. Ron Ryckman, Jr. — which would have cut half a percent of funding from the operating budgets of every district in the state — was still fast-tracked for passage, despite the objections of a number of legislators and school advocates. But as the day wore on, an alternate plan hatched in part thanks to the leadership of a group of northeast Johnson County representatives started to gain traction, and then ended up passing both houses with wide support and no significant changes.
Fairway Rep. Melissa Rooker, Mission Hills Rep. Barbara Bollier and Overland Park Rep. Stephanie Clayton shared their thoughts on the passage of the bill they helped drive, one that is widely expected to pass court muster and keep schools open. Here are the statements they issued:
Rep. Melissa Rooker
I am pleased to have helped craft a plan that resolves the equity portion of the Gannon lawsuit. While not perfect, the consensus reached will keep our schools open, preserve funding for the classroom and meets the constitutional test. This was triage performed in the face of a larger crisis and I look forward to addressing the central issues – adequacy of school funding and our fiscal problems. I will continue working to resolve these problems with common sense solutions that put us back on a sustainable path. As I have always maintained, the issues we face are solvable when we are able to put partisan differences aside and work together for the good policy solutions.
Rep. Stephanie Clayton
I was so proud to work with my fellow members of the Northeast Johnson County delegation to secure a constitutional, bipartisan, bicameral solution that averted the school funding crisis. Much work remains, but I am now more confident than ever that we will rise up to meet the future challenges that lie ahead.
Rep. Barbara Bollier
I was so pleased for my final vote in the House of Representative to be YES for a bipartisan bill that resolved the equity portion of the Gannon lawsuit. Three solutions were proposed, one being HB2001, and the others ready as amendments. When 63 votes could not be garnered by House leadership for their bill, they compromised. Money was kept in the education general fund rather than taken from the classroom. Although Shawnee Mission will lose $1.4 million that was expecting from the original block grant, it will not lose the additional half percent of general funds as proposed in the original bill. It is great to see that three branches of government can work independently and effectively to maintain constitutionality in Kansas.