The following remarks are from Governor Laura Kelly delivered at the bill signing ceremony for Senate Bill 16, the bipartisan education bill:
Throughout the 2018 campaign, I told Kansans I wanted to be the “education governor.” And I meant it. It is my number one priority.
After the election, when I sat down with my budget director to put together my budget recommendation, public education was the very first topic of discussion. We looked at the numbers for a long time.
Using the most recent Supreme Court ruling on school finance as a guide, I adopted a plan that was widely embraced as the best path to ending years of school finance litigation.
On Thursday of this week, the Kansas Legislature endorsed this plan as well. I’m pleased we were able to come to a consensus on this critical issue.
Before I sign this bill, I’d like to commend the Kansas House of Representatives and the Kansas Senate for their diligent work. Their efforts resulted in overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation that will inject $90 million more into our public schools. It is a true victory for Kansas.
I also want to recognize an important group of legislators – Senators Molly Baumgartner, Anthony Hensley, and Jim Denning, as well as Representative Valdenia Winn, who shepherded this bill through the conference committee process.
They stood strong for our kids. I thank each of them for their hard work and commitment to bringing us closer to a resolution.
After a significant increase in funding last year, this plan addresses the Kansas Supreme Court ruling and represents what we all hope to be the final step towards fully funding our schools – and maintaining adequate funding in the years to come.
It is a reasonable, good-faith effort that is based on the plan put forth by the Kansas Department of Education and endorsed by the State Board of Education.
Of course, there’s a reason we’re all here on a Saturday. We have an urgent deadline to meet, and we simply do not have a minute to lose.
My signature on Senate Bill 16 is not the end of this discussion. It will make its way across the street to the Kansas Supreme Court. Briefs are due on April 15. Oral arguments will take place on May 9.
No one can predict what the court will rule. But one thing is for certain: this legislation represents a significant bipartisan effort to address the last remaining component of last summer’s court ruling. It is a meaningful, reasonable plan that maintains the stability of the rest of the state’s budget.
The saga over public education funding has been long and hard, and it’s time for it to be settled. I believe that this legislation will allow us to finally end the cycle of litigation and move forward.
For this reason, I am so proud today to sign Senate Bill 16.