Teachers gather outside the Senate chamber at the Kansas Statehouse to urge lawmakers to pass a school finance bill Saturday, April 7, 2018.
Photo by Peter Hancock. Enlarge photo.

The Kansas House and Senate continued working late into the night Saturday without resolving their differences over a school funding bill, even as a midnight deadline approached to either extend the session beyond 90 days or let the session end automatically at midnight.

As of 11:30 p.m., the Senate was still debating whether or not to concur with a bill the House had sent over early in the afternoon.

Both chambers had passed resolutions to allow the session to continue meeting into Sunday, and setting dates for a final wrap-up session to start in late April. But they were different: the Senate version would set the day for the “sine die” end of the session as May 4, while the House set sine die on May 24.

The two chambers had not agreed on one adjournment resolution as of 11:30 p.m., which they would need to do to let the session continue.

The Senate spent nearly all of the time in between debating a tax bill that was aimed at preventing the state from reaping a windfall as an indirect result of recent changes in the federal tax code.

Conservatives in the Senate had made that a priority, saying if the Legislature did not act, it would effectively result in a tax increase at the state level, an increase that the Legislature never approved.

Democrats and some moderate Republicans, though, argued that it was premature to pass such a tax bill before lawmakers receive new, updated revenue projections, which are due later this month.

But as the tax debate dragged on, a large number of teachers, many wearing red Kansas National Education Association T-shirts started gathering in the Statehouse, suspecting that conservatives might be filibustering on the tax bill in order to prevent a vote on the school finance bill.

“We were at the representative assembly for Kansas NEA and we heard the Senate was going to delay any possible action on school funding,” Phillip Wrigley, a Lawrence resident who teaches at Topeka High School, told the Journal-World. “Now they’re trying to avoid taking action on that, so we’re here to make sure they actually do fulfill their constitutional responsibilities.”

House Democratic Leader Jim Ward, of Wichita, said he was convinced Senate Republicans were deliberately trying to delay a vote…