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Sun Apr 8, 2018, 06:26 AM

Passage of Kansas school funding hike highlights GOP split

Kansas legislators approved an increase in spending on the state's public schools in hopes of meeting a court mandate after the rancorous final days of debate highlighted deep divisions among top Republicans.

Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer publicly endorsed a bill that would phase in a $534 million increase in education funding over five years, siding with GOP leaders in the state House who largely drafted it. Attorney General Derek Schmidt, another Republican, had joined Colyer in pressuring legislators to act over the past week.

But the plan passed did not feel like a compromise to the Senate's GOP leaders, who favored a plan to phase in a $274 million increase over the same five years. They argued that the bigger plan approved early Sunday and sent to Colyer would force lawmakers to raise taxes within two years.

"We know absolutely know if we're going to pay this bill, we're going to have to increase taxes," said Senate President Susan Wagle, a conservative Wichita Republican.


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