January 10, 2006

Kansas governor increases school funding in budget

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Public schools in Kansas would get a
$75.6 million increase in state funding in fiscal 2007 under a
proposed state budget unveiled by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on

However, that increase falls far short of additional
funding levels cited in a legislative study released on Monday.
The study by the Legislative Division of Post Audit found the
state must spend at least $316 million to as much as $399
million more in fiscal 2007 to adequately fund primary and
secondary schools.

Sebelius' budget, which allocated $2.66 billion in state
general fund aid to schools, noted that her spending plan was
completed before the study's release and contained no finance
formula changes.

The Democratic governor and leaders of the
Republican-controlled legislature have said they needed time to
review the study, which was done in the wake of a Kansas
Supreme Court ruling last year that ordered the state to spend
more money on schools. For the current budget, lawmakers
increased funding by $289.5 million.

In her state of the state address Monday night, Sebelius
said that any new investment in schools must include new

"We can continue to do better and even the best districts
can improve," the governor said in prepared remarks. "That's
why my budget will include additional audits to hold school
districts accountable and ensure we get the best possible
return on our investment."

The total general fund budget for the fiscal year that
begins July 1 would be $5.3 billion and would give Kansas a
projected ending surplus of $395.5 million or 7.5 percent of
expenditures, according to budget documents.

In her budget letter, Sebelius said her spending plan can
be financed with existing funds.

Capital spending funded with general and other funds
totaled $853 million, with just a small portion financed with