School funding is dominant issue for 2018 KS Legislative Session

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Come Monday, seats in the state house will be filled as a new legislative session begins, and one issue reigns supreme.

"This is going to be a very exciting session,” said Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita). “The only issue really, though there are some smaller ones, is how do we address the needs of our kids in school and education."

House Majority Leader Don Hineman (R-Dighton) says the Supreme Court’s October ruling made plain they’re out of patience with the legislature.

"We're in a tough spot,” said Hineman. “There are no easy answers and it likely will require a combination of possibly some new revenue sources. Not necessarily taxes and also maybe some targeted cuts.”

He says schools aren't the only unmet need.

“We still are not funding KPERS retirement system adequately,” said Hineman. “We still are diverting funds from KDOT that they need for the maintenance and upkeep of Kansas highways."

Kansas revenue and consumer confidence are high but Hineman and Ward, agree the big three areas are seeing sluggish growth.

“Agriculture, oil and gas and aviation are still in a slump and so long as that continues that's kind of putting the brakes on growth and activity in the state,” Hineman said.

Lawmakers also are looking ahead to Tuesday, when Governor Brownback delivers the State of the State address. His future as international religious ambassador in limbo.

"Last year he was more an obstacle and impediment, a challenge,” said Ward. “I hope this year being his last year, his last opportunity to shape his legacy that he's more cooperative with the legislature and less adversarial."