Kansas GOP leaders see flexibility on school aid

Posted: Updated:
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -

The Latest on New Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer's first major policy speech (all times local):

 4:10 p.m.

Top Republicans in the Kansas Legislature say new GOP Gov. Jeff Colyer is being more flexible on school funding issues than his predecessor.

Colyer told legislators Wednesday that he wants to phase in an increase in spending on public schools without raising taxes. He addressed a joint session of the House and Senate in his first major policy speech since taking office last week.

Colyer replaced former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback when Brownback took an ambassador's post. Brownback had proposed phasing in a $513 million increase in aid to public schools over five years and relying on growth in state revenues to pay for it.

Republican leaders noted that Colyer did not set a figure for the increase. Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning said Colyer backed off Brownback's plan.

 3:40 p.m.

New Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer says he is creating a task force to develop policies for combatting drug addiction.

Colyer said during a speech Wednesday that former state Rep. Greg Lakin will lead the new task force to develop both short-term and long-term policies for dealing with drug addiction and an epidemic of opioid abuse. Lakin is the chief medical officer at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The new governor touched on the opioid addiction during an address to a joint session of the Kansas House and Senate. It was his first major policy speech since becoming last week.

Colyer said the state needs a comprehensive approach to combatting drug addiction. He called it a scourge.

3 p.m.

New Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer is calling for an amendment to the state constitution to protect the current state restrictions on abortion and is telling legislators that he opposes raising taxes to provide more money for public schools.

Colyer outlined his positions on abortion, school funding and other issues Wednesday afternoon during a joint session of the Kansas House and Senate. It was the Republican governor's first major policy speech since taking office last week.

His call for a constitutional amendment on abortion is in response to a Kansas Supreme Court case over whether the state constitution protects abortion rights.

He and legislators also must respond to a Supreme Court mandate to increase education funding. He said he would support a solution that doesn't increase the tax burden on Kansas families.

2 p.m.

A top aide says Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer plans to sign executive orders that would make government records less costly to obtain, limit the use of private email by officials doing public business and provide more information online about state agencies' operations.

Colyer spokeswoman Kara Fullmer confirmed the outlines of the new Republican governor's planned executive orders Wednesday ahead of the his first major policy speech. Colyer was scheduled to address a joint session of the House and Senate on Wednesday afternoon.

Colyer was expected to discuss transparency issues during the speech. He also has scheduled a Thursday news conference to formally issue the executive orders.

Fullmer confirmed that under one new policy, people and groups seeking government documents will be able to obtain the first 100 pages free.

11:50 p.m. Tuesday

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer is expected to outline proposals for making state government more transparent during an address to the Legislature.

Lawmakers are hoping he also spells out where he stands on public school funding during the address scheduled to be given Wednesday afternoon to a joint session of the House and Senate. It is the new Republican governor's first major policy speech.

Colyer was formerly lieutenant governor and replaced former GOP Gov. Sam Brownback last week when Brownback resigned to take an ambassador's post.

Republican state Rep. Melissa Rooker of Fairway says lawmakers are looking for more than platitudes.

GOP Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita says legislators want to know exactly how Colyer wants to respond to a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to increase spending on public schools.
 

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