Kansas public schools face brewing backlash in budget debate

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators see plenty of needs for spending across state government and are starting to complain that a court mandate puts schools first in line.

Prison staffing, state mental hospitals and highway projects are among the items lawmakers would like to fund. But an October state Supreme Court ruling that the $4 billion-plus the state spends on schools each year isn't adequate means that most conversations about money at the Statehouse revolve around schools.

House Majority Leader Don Hineman says the state can't gut most functions of state government to meet schools' demands.

But educators and others say that schools and state agencies are living with the consequences of past state income tax cuts.

Lawmakers are awaiting a school funding study due in March before acting on the budget questions.