Lawmakers continue to scuffle over education bill

Discussion on a bill that would deliver voucher-like funding to Kansas private schools continues to plunge into the weeds over interpretations of obscure parliamentary rules and allegations of abuse of power.


State News

March 17, 2023 - 3:46 PM

Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa, ignited a procedural firestorm Thursday by demanding an immediate vote on a House-approved education bill that featured private school voucher-like funding. Photo by (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The dustup in the Senate over a bill delivering voucher-like funding to Kansas private schools featured zinger one-liners, rival interpretations of an obscure parliamentary rule and allegations Republican leadership engaged in abuse of power.

Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, a Democrat from Lenexa, got the ball rolling Thursday with a motion to call a vote on Senate Bill 83, which was transformed by the House to include a mandate to raise teacher raises, increase funding of special education and establish the Sunflower Education Equity Act. The equity act would create state funded $5,000 savings accounts for low- and middle-income students attending homeschools and private schools.

The bill barely cleared the Kansas House 64-61, despite an 85-40 GOP majority in the chamber. Gov. Laura Kelly equated the bundled bill to a political form of blackmail, suggesting it could be vetoed with little threat of two-thirds majorities required of an override by the Senate and House.

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