State Rep. Kay Wolf, the former Prairie Village city councilwoman who now represents much of the city in Topeka, says that by and large the Johnson County delegation in the state legislature is excited about Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal for revamping the school finance formula.Wolf and other Johnson County legislators met with Brownback’s policy director Landon Fulmer prior to his presentation of the new proposal at a meeting of the state Board of Education. Response, Wolf said, was positive.
“I’m very pleased that the governor has stood behind his campaign promise to overhaul what I think we all recognize is a broken school finance formula,” Wolf said.
Still, she said, there remains considerable uncertainty about the reception it will receive when it comes before the legislature. Rural communities are likely to raise some objection to the provision of the proposal that would allow districts to lift the cap on the amount of property taxes that can be raised to fund schools.
This provision is considered more favorable to urban, property-rich districts like those in Johnson County. Without Brownback using the mantle of the governor’s office to put the proposal forward, Wolf said, she doubts it would have much of a chance.
“The only chance a proposal like this ever had was with the governor taking the lead,” she said. “And I think his office has been working very hard to put together a proposal that is fair across the board.”
Wolf says that since the proposal is one of the biggest pieces of legislation the state will take up this year, it’s likely to come to the floor relatively early in the next session.
“In my seven years in Topeka, I haven’t been this excited about the prospects of changing the formula,” she said.