Kansas lawmakers abandon proposal to transfer control of school funding

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TOPEKA, Kan. -- On Thursday Kansas lawmakers abandoned a proposal that would have given Gov. Sam Brownback more control over school finances.

Republican lawmakers canceled a public hearing in front of a room full of public school leaders.

The proposed change would transfer control of money for schools from the Kansas Department of Education to the governor.

Opponents call it an attack on public schools.

School supporters packed the hearing room to claim that the state constitution requires a separate state board to supervise public schools. Some fear once the governor has control, he would tap into school money to fund his tax loopholes.

The chairman of the state senate's ways and means committee canceled the hearing and said there's no value in a fight over falsehoods this year.

"Due to this misinformation and falsehoods I have found this debate to be escalated to the point of irrational emotion," said Sen. Ty Masterson, a Republican from Andover. "I see no time in wasting time of both the conferees or the committee in hearing the issue today."

Supporters of the change argued that allowing the governor to distribute money to school districts would help make state government more efficient by consolidating property management, insurance and benefits with other state agencies for better purchasing power.

Masterson says the goal is to improve transparency and consistency in funding to schools.

Republican supporters of the bill say educators overreacted, claiming the only change schools will notice is in who sends them their checks.