DALLAS – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback called a special session of the legislature Tuesday in the face of a state Supreme Court deadline for fixing the state's school funding at the end of the month.
"After discussion with Legislative leadership, I have decided to call a special session to keep Kansas schools open, despite the Court's threat to close them," Brownback said. "It is distressing that the Kansas Supreme Court has put the schools and legislature of Kansas in this position over less than 1% of school funding."
Brownback's announcement came a week after the 2016 legislative session ended with a budget that required funding cuts to transportation, Medicaid, delayed funding for state pensions and other stopgap measures.
"I will do everything I can to keep this session focused on education," the governor added. "I am working to arrange the particular dates of the session, which will occur later this month."
If Kansas lawmakers do not pass a new bill in June to provide equitable education funding, the Kansas Supreme Court could block the distribution of education dollars, triggering a shutdown of schools.
The court ruled May 27 that lawmakers had failed to make funding equitable as required by the state constitution.
Democrats in the legislature had begun gathering petition signatures to require Brownback to call the special session. If two-thirds of the legislators sign a petition, a special session can be held without the governor's call.
The session comes as Kansas continues to struggle with falling revenues.
Shortly after the legislative session ended May 27, the Kansas Department of Revenue reported that revenue for May came in $74.5 million below projections.
The shortfall comes after the state lowered revenue estimates by $177 million in April and replaces a projected ending balance for the year with a budget shortfall of more than $50 million.
Individual income taxes were $58 million below estimates, while corporate income taxes came in $15 million short. Retail sales taxes came in nearly $4 million above estimates.
It was only the second monthly revenue report to be issued since the state's Consensus Revenue Estimating Group updated its estimates in mid-April by significantly lowering their projections of incoming revenues.
The revenue crisis forced Gov. Sam Brownback to enact a series of spending cuts, including a $17 million cut in state aid to public universities.
In the wake of the cuts, lawmakers passed a series of budget amendments which, combined with additional cuts by the governor, was expected to leave the state with an ending balance of about $21 million on June 30.