Yesterday’s work under the dome went longer than usual because, both the House K-12 Budget Committee and the House Education Committee both met and conducted hearings on important bills.
In the K-12 Budget Committee, the hearing on HB 2410 began. HB 2410 is the Chairman’s Bill on school finance. We explained the components of this bill earlier this week. This hearing will run for three days, ending on Monday, after which the Committee will begin the process of “working” the bill. We anticipate many amendments being offered at that time.
On the first day, testimony was offered by KASB and a number of school superintendents. Today, KNEA was one of a long list of organizations offering testimony. KNEA suggested that there were a number of points in the bill that we support but we cannot support replacing the LOB with three funds, much of which would be restricted. We also testified that the funding in the bill – $75 million in new money – is woefully inadequate and would be rejected by the Supreme Court.
Today, the same concerns brought forth by KNEA were shared in testimony from the Kansas PTA, Game On for Kansas Schools, the Eudora Superintendent, the Pratt Superintendent, and the Central Heights Superintendent.
Later yesterday, the House Education Committee held a hearing on HB 2374, a bill which would radically expand the tuition tax credit program that drains up to $10 million from the state budget to send children to private schools including unaccredited private schools. HB 2374 would expand who is eligible to get a “scholarship” and expand tax breaks by giving individuals the ability to contribute to a scholarship granting organization (SGO) and get a tax break. Currently, only corporations can get the tax break.
The bill was supported by the Kansas Policy Institute and the Kansas Chamber – two organizations working overtime to drain funding from public schools – and the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. Opposing the bill were KNEA, KASB, the League of Women Voters, Game on for Kansas Schools, Kansas Families for Education, the Mainstream Coalition, and the Kansas PTA.
Committee Chairman Clay Aurand (R-Belleville) announced at the beginning of the meeting that he would not be working bill. This means that the bill is dead for this year as a stand-alone bill. The Committee will not meet again this year.
There is a version of the bill in HB 2410 but the expansion there, while changing the definition of eligible students, does not expand the tax breaks and limits the scholarships to students attending accredited schools that do better than the trendline for post-secondary success or have an ACT performance above the state average.
The following is republished from”Walk to Restore the Revenue” Facebook Event Page:
We walk for three days (Fri 24 – Sun 26), and arrive in Topeka on Monday, March 27th. Join us for all or part, but most importantly join us Monday at 10:30 am in front of the Kansas Supreme Court Building (South of the Capitol) for our final steps into the Capitol for a rally demanding reform.
Share the Event: bit.ly/Kwalk2017
For the last four years, Kansans have walked to raise awareness of the need to fund public education. This year, education supporters are coming together with roadworkers, social workers, and other concerned citizens to support real revenue reform.
A sustainable tax policy was passed by both the House and Senate, but the Governor vetoed the policy. The House managed to override the veto, but the Senate was shy just three votes to override the veto.
Kansas is three votes away from a tax policy that will provide the structure required to sustain solid infrastructure, to provide support for vulnerable Kansans, and to invest in the education of our children.
This year the walk will again begin from three locations: Merriam, Emporia, and Manhattan.