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TOPEKA  - A bill that would make major changes in how the state pays for schools could become law as early as the end of this week.
 

New bill targets science and AP curriculums, as well

Kansas lawmakers are making a third attempt at unraveling the state's standards for teaching math, English, science, and other subjects, after failing to pass similar bills the past two years.

In the second week of the 2015 legislative session, the Senate education panel has received a tweaked version of previous efforts to scuttle the state's teaching guidelines for those subjects.

The bill, introduced Thursday, would force Kansas to revert on July 1 to the standards it used before 2010.

Governor’s Bold Budget Proposal Provides $0 for K12 School Funding Ruling


The governor’s budget proposal addresses a $648 million shortfall by cutting services, raising sales taxes and rejecting the $550 plus million court ruling that K12 public schools have been chronically underfunded for years.  


Winners and Losers. "It's two years and there will be some up and down, so I suppose you'll have some people who win or lose in it" (Governor Brownback, WIBW, 1/16/2015).


Cuts and Efficiencies. “Efficiencies. There are over $350 million of State General Fund savings in the FY 2015, FY 2016 and FY 2017 proposed budget based on a policy of running programs more efficiently and effectively” (p. 17, Governor’s Budget Proposal FY16).  Kansas Budget Director, Shawn Sullivan says, "I know many people have different words for efficiencies. I do not believe these to be cuts" (Briefing at the Capital, 1/16/2015).  


Highlights of proposed State Budget and adjustments:
 

1.    Allots $0 towards the $550 million K12 public education budget shortfall.
2.    Cuts state funding and transfers from within $615.5 million to bring budget back into the black.

  • Cuts $40 million in FY15 payment toward the restoration of the State’s pension fund KPERS from the state budget to the school districts operating budgets (aka classrooms) and another $92 million in FY16-17.
  • Deletes $63 million for this 2015 school year in K12 school buildings capital outlay, local authority equalization funds, and school bond/interest aid.
  • Level funds K12 public education at the current unconstitutional rate for the next two years, with no cost of living increases.
  • Decreases funding for colleges and universities by $70.4 million in FY16 and then up $26.6 million in FY17.
  • Cuts $32 million from the Children’s Initiative Fund (CIF) between 2015-2017, while 51% of all Kansas students are eligible for free/reduced lunch and rising.

3.    Increases sales tax on liquor by 50% and a pack of cigarettes by 190%, while slowing down the pace at which the state zeros out income taxes for lower income brackets only, to increase state revenue by $211 million.
4.    Floats a $1.5 Billion bond to back fill chronic underfunding of state pension funds.

55 Cents per Month.  "There's several indicators that show us growth is happening in the state, even with some of the struggles some areas have had," Jordan said. "We think, by lowering taxes, people are going to have more money to put into the Kansas economy” (KS Revenue Secretary, WIBW, Jan 16, 2015).  A family of $30,000 can expect to have 55 cents per month back in their pocket.  Is this enough to get Kansas economy going?  Is this income tax cut worth the impact on your neighborhood school?

Mary Sinclair, PhD
Kansas PTA Legislative Team
mfoxsinclair@gmail.com

 

This is a great read on the tactics in play to destroy public education. Please take the time to read the full blog...

If I wanted to design an education budget that gives the “appearance” of supporting teachers and educators, what would that budget look like? What if my long term goals are to get the state out of the education business and turn that entire enterprise over to the private sector? How can I continue to “starve” public education to achieve this goal? Here’s what I might do.

Governor, Legislature face ongoing litigation over whether school funding is too low

Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to scrap the state’s K-12 funding formula has sparked speculation about whether he is trying to skirt an ongoing lawsuit — questions that his office declined to answer on Monday.

Gov. Sam Brownback endorsed remaking how the state funds public schools and putting the state’s creditors at the front of the line for payments from state coffers in an ambitious State of the State speech Thursday night. He also embraced moving city elections to the fall and changing the way Kansas selects its Supreme Court justices....

2015 Kansas Legislative Session is Away

This second week in January marks the opening of the 2015 legislative session, completed by the Governor’s State of the State address Thursday and his budget recommendations Friday (Transcript for Gov. Brownback’s address , Transcript for Sen. Hensley’s response).  

In brief – this will be a tough year for Kansas public school patrons, who include 85% of all families with school-aged children.  We encourage you to keep three things in mind throughout this legislation session:    

  1. Public education is a primary function of the states and a constitutional obligation of Kansas, for which roughly half of state budgets are allocated.
  2. Revenue projections for the governor’s zero income tax policy has left Kansas facing a $1.2 BILLION budget deficit by the end of next year – equivalent to one third of the annual state education budget.
  3. The leadership among our elected officials believes state government has plenty of funding and just needs to operate more efficiently – aka – cut services.


$1.2 Billion.  The legislature returned to Topeka facing a budget shortfall of $279 million this current fiscal year, another $436 million starting July 1, 2015 and the restoration of K12 public school funding of about $550 million or more.  Note that Kansas bond rating has been downgraded twice since the tax policy was implemented.  Current revenue shortfalls exceed those Kansans experienced following the 2008 Great Recession.

Leadership Agenda. Governor Brownback stated in his address that his administration will be moving full steam ahead with the policies and agenda he initiated over the past four years, despite the budget problems.  This agenda centers on the continued reduction of income taxes and privatization of state services, including education. A full slate of counterproductive public education bills is expected – vouchers and ‘scholarships’ for private schools, for-profit run charter schools, a new school finance formula rather than funding the current one, decimation of Teacher Negotiations Act, more unfunded reporting requirements on efficiency and performance, student graduation standardized test requirements, and a continued usurping of State Board of Education authority by partisan legislative commissions and committees.

Education Committees. Assignments to the House Education Committee have changed from last year. Twelve of the 19 committee members (63%) are ALEC affiliated representatives, whose policy platform is focused on limited government. The lot of ‘faux’ reform bills, such as private school vouchers, will pass with little resistance from the majority of committee members. The joint education committees have already heard a presentation on several pre-filed bills from the Chair of the K12 Commission on Efficiency. Given these circumstances, efforts to protect public education policy will be fought when bills are heard on the House floor. 

Mary Sinclair, PhD
Kansas PTA Legislative Team
mfoxsinclair@gmail.com


 

Budget director says adjustments necessary to structurally balance budget

Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration outlined a sweeping budget plan Friday that includes changes to Medicaid and increases in the state’s tobacco and alcohol taxes.

In a preview of fights to come, a joint education committee on Wednesday introduced bills recommended by an interim school efficiency panel but got hung up on proposed legislation aimed at limiting what can be negotiated between teachers and school boards.

The action took place before the House and Senate education committees, which met jointly to hear a presentation from Sam Williams, chairman of the K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission.

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