The Latest: Kansas lawmaker sees prayer, Bible as school fix

The Latest: Kansas lawmaker sees prayer, Bible as school fix
The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on the Kansas Legislature’s debate on increasing school funding to meet a court mandate (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

A conservative Kansas lawmaker is suggesting that problems facing public schools aren’t a matter of money but a shift away from God in recent decades.

Republican Rep. Randy Garber, of Sabetha, argued Saturday during a 13-minute speech on a school funding bill that problems with society and public education stem from U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the early 1960s declaring school-sponsored prayer and Bible reading unconstitutional.

Garber concluded his speech by telling his colleagues: “If we don’t fix society, we won’t fix our schools.”

He added, “I say the way to fix our schools is to put prayer and the Bible back and give it a chance.”

House Democratic Leader Jim Ward of Wichita called Garber’s remarks “disappointing” and that providing a good public education is “hard work.”

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1:35 p.m.

The Kansas House has approved an education funding proposal that’s designed to break an impasse among Republican lawmakers over boosting spending on public schools.

The vote Saturday was 63-56. The bill would phase in a $534 million increase in education funding over five years and is similar to a plan approved by the House earlier this week.

The bill goes next to the Senate for an up-or-down vote that could send it to Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer. He has endorsed the proposal.

The Senate previously approved a plan to phase in a $274 million funding increase over five years.

Lawmakers are considering an education funding increase in response to a state Supreme Court ruling in October that the state’s current funding of more than $4 billion a year is insufficient.

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10:45 a.m.

Some Republican lawmakers in Kansas are trying to break an impasse over increasing funding for public schools to meet a court mandate.

GOP leaders in the House said they are hoping to have their chamber pass a new plan that’s close to one the chamber passed earlier to phase in a roughly $520 million increase in education funding over five years.

If the House can pass the new plan, it would go to the Senate for a single, up-or-down vote to determine whether the measure goes to Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer.

The Senate previously approved a plan to phase in a $274 million education funding increase over five years.

The state Supreme Court ruled in October that the state’s current funding of more than $4 billion a year is insufficient.

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12:05 a.m.

Big differences among Republican lawmakers over how much to increase spending on Kansas’ public schools are forcing them to work the weekend.

They are under pressure Saturday to pass a plan that will satisfy a state Supreme Court mandate.

House and Senate negotiators held several rounds of talks Friday afternoon and evening to resolve the differences between their rival education funding plans.

But the talks broke off Friday night when it became clear that the negotiators weren’t getting closer to agreeing on how much to spend.

The House plan would phase in a roughly $520 million increase in education funding over five years. The Senate’s figure is $274 million.

The state Supreme Court ruled in October that the state’s current funding of more than $4 billion a year is insufficient.

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