Education the focus of 2019 legislative session

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Monday marked the beginning of the 2019 legislative session. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives gaveled in to start the session.

To start off the legislative session, new members of the House and Senate were sworn in to office, but plenty of work is coming for lawmakers as they prepare to work with a new governor, and focus on education.

According to Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka), lawmakers are waiting to hear what newly sworn in Governor Laura Kelly will say on Wednesday.

"I’m presuming she's going to offer a school finance plan that is going to end the litigation that we've been under entirely too long,” Hensley said. “We've had a series of lawsuits over the last, really, two decades and it’s time that we put all that behind us."

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled the school funding formula was only adequate for one year and it didn't account for inflation.

Senator Jeff Longbine (R-Emporia) said too much work has been done in the last few years for the formula to be redone.

"I think there was a tremendous amount of work done in the last two sessions on school finance and the court in their words have found it substantially compliant,” Longbine said. “I think we need to concentrate on the areas that they didn’t find compliant.”

Senator Hensley said it would be a mistake to redo the formula after the Supreme Court found it constitutional.

"The unconstitutional part of it is, it has been historically underfunded,” Hensley said. “Now, it's time that the legislators step up and adequately and fairly fund K-12 education."

On January 10th, Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) renewed the Select Committee on Education Finance which includes Hensley as Ranking Member. Senator Molly Baumgardner (R-Overland Park) is chair of that committee.