Kansas and the DACA Reversal

Sep 13, 2017 by

President Donald Trump with Kansas’ Kris Kobach

First, as a refresher course, what is DACA?

DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Child Arrivals” and is intended to benefit children who came to the United States as children in the company of their parents who are undocumented immigrants. These children are usually referred to as “Dreamers” because of legislation known as “The Dream Act” that would allow them to attend colleges without fear of deportation.

Those who qualify under DACA are allowed work and/or study in the United States without fear of deportation. To be considered the applicant must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The intent is to protect children who were brought to this country illegally by their parents. For many of these children, the United States is the only country they know. DACA does not protect their parents.

With the inability of Congress to agree on the Dream Act, DACA was enacted under an executive order by President Obama.

President Trump has rescinded Obama’s executive order with a delay of six months ostensibly to give Congress time to work out a statutory solution to this issue. Should Congress fail to act, all current DACA beneficiaries would be subject to deportation – and making matters more frightening for them, the federal government holds a lot of identifying data on these young men and women due to the data collected in the application process.

Where is the Kansas Congressional Delegation on DACA?

While Governor Brownback was a supporter of the Dream Act while serving as a United States Senator, the same cannot be said of the current Kansas Congressional Delegation.

Our members of Congress can be quoted from their own press statements.

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS CD 2), who is not running for re-election, said, “In the coming weeks, I look forward to working with my colleagues to create a permanent solution through the legislative process with input from Kansans in the 2nd District.” Unfortunately, Jenkins was vague on what a solution might be.

Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-KS CD 3) parroted the remarks of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he said DACA “has served as a magnet, bringing tens of thousands of new immigrants, exacerbating our illegal immigration challenges, and creating a humanitarian crisis at the border.” Nothing could be further from the truth. No one enters the United States illegally because they might get their children enrolled in the DACA program.

Congressman Ron Estes (R-KS CD 4) praised Trump’s action and said “This decision gives Congress time to fix our broken immigration system. Congress can do this by securing our borders, reviewing our immigration process, and not providing amnesty to those who disregard our nation’s laws.” DACA beneficiaries, contrary to Congressman Estes’ assertion, were brought to this country by their parents and must prove in the DACA application process that they have not broken any of our nation’s laws.

Only Congressman Roger Marshall (R-KS CD 1) indicated in his press release that it was important to protect these young people. Marshall said, “Our resources, especially as they pertain to deportation, must remain focused on getting rid of bad people who present a danger to the American citizen – not a young person who is here simply due to circumstance. To date, 787,000 young people have legally registered with the U.S. government and have shown their willingness to follow our laws. We cannot allow that information to now be used against them in reverse order.”

Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) issued a brief statement in support of the Trump’s decision and calling on Congress to act. We cannot find any statement on the issue from Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS).

As one would expect, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor), applauded the decision and called on Congress not to act and instead move to deport all of the Dreamers. He said on “Fox and Friends” that he supported repealing DACA, and that he opposes replacing it with a congressionally enacted plan.”It’s a tough job market and those in Congress who are saying, ‘Mr. President, don’t get rid of this DACA amnesty,’ should remember, our young U.S. citizens are having a really tough time,” Kobach said. “Why would you want to give an amnesty to 1.7 million young illegal aliens to compete against them?” The evidence shows that DACA recipients are not taking jobs from citizens and actually contribute enormously to the economy of the nation.

For more information on this issue, we would suggest you read the following articles:

CNN has provided a comprehensive Q&A on DACA: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/04/politics/daca-dreamers-immigration-program/index.html

The Washington Post addresses five myths about DACA: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/five-myths-about-daca/2017/09/07/e444675a-930c-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html?utm_term=.f417090e4571

Newsweek provides 15 points on DACA statistics: http://www.newsweek.com/dreamers-daca-statistics-trump-deadline-657201

The National Education Association statement on DACA: http://neatoday.org/2017/09/05/daca-nea-response/?_ga=2.147709247.967952866.1504886469-21933477.1504886469

The National PTA statement on DACA: https://www.pta.org/newsevents/newsdetail.cfm?ItemNumber=5363

The National School Boards Association statement on DACA: https://www.nsba.org/newsroom/nsba-statement-trump-administration%E2%80%99s-decision-rescind-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals

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Court Hears Arguments in School Finance

Jul 18, 2017 by

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

The Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments from the State and the Plaintiffs in the Gannon school finance lawsuit this morning. It was wrapped up before noon at which time the Court said they would take the arguments under consideration. How long that consideration will last is anyone’s guess, but they have said they will act in an expedited manner.

Most observers believe the state had the harder time before the Court. Justices pressed the attorneys for the state, Stephen McAllister and Jeff King, about why the legislature chose to base funding levels on the “successful schools model” even going so far as to suggest this was a decision based not on appropriate funding but backing into a lower cost model.

Justices also appeared skeptical about the state’s reliance on LOB (local option budget) funds as foundational funding for schools. This has been a position advocated for by Rep. Clay Aurand (R-Belleville).

Asked whether or not the Court should let the state off the hook- so to speak- King called upon the Court to allow the new law three years to see if it could do the job. The Justices appeared to have little interest in waiting three years to decide if the legislature has done the right thing.

There seemed to be little questioning on the school finance model adopted in SB 19 except for a couple of questions regarding equity. Specifically concerning the expansion of what could be paid for under capital outlay and the 10% floor for at-risk funding allowing districts with fewer than 10% free and reduced lunch students to receive at-risk funding as if they had 10%.

Now the waiting starts. We will watch for the Court’s decision over the next few weeks. For more reaction on today’s hearing, see the following news report.

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Supreme Court: Schools May Open Under New Finance Bill

Jun 20, 2017 by

http://www.workingjournalistpress.com/articles/170302/Gannon-Case-Supreme-Court-opinion-released.php

The Kansas Supreme Court yesterday announced that Kansas public schools will be allowed to open under the finance plan passed by the Legislature in Senate Bill 19. This is not, however, to mean that they believe the new formula to be adequate or constitutional. That decision will be made later.

In making the announcement, the Court set July 18 as the hearing day for the new formula. The State will argue that SB 19 fully complies with the Gannon decision, while the plaintiffs will argue that it is inadequate in funding and contains a number of provisions that jeopardize equity. After hearing arguments from both sides, the Court will deliberate before making a ruling on the issues at hand. While the Court has said they will expedite this case, there is no telling how long their deliberations might take before a decision is reached.

Obviously, this means that there will not be a July special legislative session. If the Court rules against the State, there is still the possibility of a fall special session or the Legislature could be given the 2018 regular legislative session to address any shortcomings.

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It Really is Sunrise in Kansas!

Jun 7, 2017 by

Good happens!

House and Senate majorities on Monday night passed comprehensive tax reform (SB 30). They restored the three income tax brackets and repealed both the glide path to zero and the LLC income tax loophole. They also began the restoration of income tax deductions that help middle and low income families, including medical expenses, child and dependent care expenses, and property taxes paid.

The debate and bill passage were not easy. Some legislators are dug firmly into the position that all taxes and all government services are bad – one Senator even suggested that if you need a service like education, then you should pay for it yourself. But in the end, a majority in both the House and Senate voted to support tax reform. Unfortunately, those majorities were not strong enough to support an effort to override a veto. They fell one vote short in the Senate and 15 in the House.

Governor Brownback did not take long to announce that he would veto the plan because, in his world, his tax experiment is working. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he truly believe his experiment is working.

He vetoed the bill on Tuesday and that night, the Senate took up a motion by Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine (R-Emporia) to override the veto and pass the bill. A roll call vote in the Senate is conducted by calling each Senator’s name and they respond Aye or No. It was the last Senator called who put the bill over the top on the override. Senator Rick Wilborn (R-McPherson), who had voted No on Monday night, voted Yes on the override assuring that it passed.

Those voting NO on the override were Republicans Alley (Winfield), Baumgardner (Louisburg), Fitzgerald (Leavenworth), Hilderbrand (Galena), Lynn (Olathe), Masterson (Andover), Olson (Olathe), Petersen (Wichita), Pilcher-Cook (Shawnee), Pyle (Hiawatha), Suellentrop (Wichita), Tyson (Parker), and Wagle (Wichita).

The veto message then went to the House, where Tax Committee Chairman Steven Johnson (R-Assaria) made the motion to override the veto.

Again, the debate focused mostly around the idea that Kansas “has a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” despite the fact that revenues continue to decline and we have had multiple rounds of budget cuts since 2012.

Moving the House to override was a much bigger task than in the Senate since we had to find 15 members willing to override in addition to the 69 who voted for the bill initially. In the House, roll call votes are done when legislators press a red (for no) or green (for yes) button on their desks. Their names light up in red or green on the vote board. The initial vote came up with 84 Yes votes – just enough to override. Some legislators explained their votes and then four more moved to the Yes column. The final House vote was 88 yes to 31 no.

One legislator, Joe Seiwert (R-Pretty Prairie), voted “present.” Rep. Shannon Francis (R-Liberal) did not vote. Four others – John Barker (R-Abilene), Trevor Jacobs (R-Fort Scott), Les Mason (R-McPherson), and Jack Thimesch (R-Spivey) – were on excused absences.

Those voting NO on the override were Republicans Arnberger (Great Bend), Awerkamp (St. Mary’s), Blex (Independence), Burris (Mulvane), Carpenter (Derby), Claeys (Salina), Corbet (Topeka), Delperdang (Wichita), Dove (Bonner Springs), Ellis (Meriden), Esau (Olathe), Garber (Sabetha), Highland (Wamego), Hoffman (Coldwater), Houser (Columbus), Huebert (Valley Center), Humphries (Wichita), Jones (Wellsville), Landwehr (Wichita), Osterman (Wichita), Powell (Olathe), Rahjes (Agra), Resman (Olathe), Schwab (Olathe), Eric Smith (Burlington), Sutton (Gardner), Vickrey (Louisburg), Weber (Wichita), Whitmer (Wichita), and Williams (Augusta). Also voting NO was Democrat Henderson (Kansas City).

This action puts tax reform to rest for the session. But there is still more to be accomplished.

School Finance Passed But Will It Be Vetoed?

The school finance plan has passed, as we reported yesterday, and is sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting his decision. So far, Brownback has not given any indication as to whether or not he will sign the bill and let it be sent on to the Supreme Court for review.

While KNEA does not believe the bill will meet constitutional muster, it is important that action be taken on it as quickly as possible. If he intends to veto it, he needs to do it now so the legislature can either override the veto or get to work immediately on an alternative. If he intends to sign it, it should be done now to give the Supreme Court time to review the bill and hear arguments on its pros and cons.

Hopefully a decision will be made soon. Perhaps even before you read this!

What makes us think this bill (SB 19) will not satisfy the Court? Primarily, we believe it will not meet adequacy of overall funding. While most of the policy forms a solid finance formula, the funding amount is far below what the State Board has indicated is needed and will certainly not be adequate in the eyes of the plaintiffs.

Additionally, there are legitimate concerns about how some provisions will impact required equalization. Last year, the Court sent the legislature back to fix equalization issues. This year, some are questioning new provisions regarding the false base for LOB which, under the bill, grows with the CPI-U and a provision on expanded spending authority under capital outlay. The Court may agree that these provisions are disequalizing and reject them. It is unclear whether the Court could separate them from the whole bill or not.

Longest Session Ever?

Well, not yet. The longest Kansas Legislative Session ever was the 2015 session, which lasted 114 days. Today is day 110 for the 2017 session so we’re pushing it now.

We believe it will be over before breaking the record, but it really depends on how the Governor deals with that school finance bill. If it’s vetoed, we could very well move beyond 114.

 

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School Finance, Tax Reform, & a Veto Pen

Jun 6, 2017 by

Tell your legislators to override the Governor’s veto of CCR for SB 30!

School Finance Passes on Second Try

Yesterday saw the consideration of two school finance plans. The first was created from the conference committee work on HB 2168. The House put tax policy in the bill. Three provisions were included: the establishment of three income tax brackets, the repeal of the glide path to zero, and the repeal of the LLC loophole. Additionally, the bill would direct all state income tax receipts to K-12 education in Kansas. Under this, all other state services would have to be funded with sales and excise taxes and fees.

This bill also required a “trailer bill” (CCR SB 30) that included other tax provisions many of which lowered the income tax receipts possible under the change in brackets. The revenue raised in the bill was lower than other tax bills considered this year.

KNEA, along with other education organizations, opposed the bill (contained now in CCR SB 19). This bill failed on a vote of 32-91 and was sent back to the conference committee. Since the tax trailer bill was tethered to the school finance bill through a provision that assured if one of the bills failed, they both failed, there was no need to then vote on the trailer bill.

Back in the education conference committee, the income tax changes were stripped out of CCR SB 19 and it was sent back to the floor as a school finance bill only. With the tax policy stripped out, the report was adopted in the House on a vote of 67 to 55 and later in the Senate on a vote of 23 to 17.

KNEA believes that the education finance bill that passed is not likely to meet constitutional muster because the funding is not adequate and because there are several provisions which may be considered by the court to be disequalizing. Additionally, the bill expands the tuition tax credit program diverting state money to private schools. We know that many legislators voted against the bill for these reasons; others voted against it because they have no interest in increasing funding for schools. We also know that many legislators who agree with us on the above issues also voted for the bill because they firmly believe at this late date something must be sent to the court for review. They are counting on a court ruling to move more legislators to support a better plan perhaps in a July special session.

Tax Bill Finally Passes; Governor Vows to Veto

After the failure of the tax/school combo bill, the tax conference committee met and assembled a new tax plan (again in CCR SB 30) that restored the three income tax brackets at higher levels than now but lower than 2012, repealed the glide path and the LLC loophole, and phased back in to law some of the family-friendly deductions (medical care, property taxes paid, mortgage interest, child care) over several years. This bill raised significant new revenue – about $600 million per year – and helped Kansas families. KNEA, AFT, Kansas Action for Children, the Kansas Organization of State Employees, the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, and other allies in Rise Up Kansas threw their support behind the tax bill.

The stand-alone tax bill (CCR SB 30) was ultimately adopted by the House on a vote of 69 to 52 and then by the Senate after midnight on a vote of 26 to 14. We were delighted that a good tax plan was finally adopted but of course, there is still one more hurdle – the intransigence of the man on the second floor.

It wasn’t long before Governor Brownback let it be known that he would veto CCR SB 30. We expected this. After all, Brownback has invested much of his tenure in destroying the tax basis of Kansas, starting with the reckless and irresponsible tax cuts of 2012.

Legislators and Kansas voters know it is time to get the state’s fiscal house in order. In August and November of last year, voters threw out many of the most vocal supporters of the Brownback experiment, replacing them with moderate Republicans and Democrats. Despite Brownback’s lame duck status and persistent rumors of his pending appointment to a position in the Trump administration, he vows to leave the state in fiscal collapse. And sadly, it appears that some in the Legislature are okay with that.

At this time, after six years of falling revenue, after 19 rounds of cuts to state services from universities to K-12 education to public safety, roads and highways, and the social service safety net; after multiple credit downgrades; after putting the state in massive debt through bonding and skipping payments to KPERS, it is time to turn this ship around. It is time to get on the path to fiscal stability.

The Kansas House and Senate must stand up and override the Governor’s veto of CCR SB 30. If they do not, they risk the closure of public schools on July 1.

We need every Kansan who cares, to contact their Representatives and Senators and call upon them to override the Governor’s veto of CCR SB 30.

You can tell your legislator that you want them to override the Governor’s veto easily here.
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School Finance is the Hot Topic of the Day

Jun 2, 2017 by

School Funding Conference Committee, Photo: Celia Llopis Jepsen Twitter @Celia_LJ

The House/Senate Conference Committee on school finance met several times today, exchanging offers to bridge the differences between HB 2410 (the House position) and HB 2186 (the Senate position). They have been making good progress, and most items have been resolved. Of course, the biggies are how much money and the details of said money distribution.

They will be meeting over the weekend (well, at least Saturday) and we will have a summary of the final conference committee report hopefully on Sunday.

Understand, though, that the final bill will not be bigger money-wise than either of the options on the table today. The opportunity to dramatically increase funding in this bill has passed.

In looking at these bills and the negotiations happening now, we believe that the final bill will contain a good finance formula. The policy relating to the distribution of funds, targeting those funds to different populations, addressing the needs of the lowest quartile of student performance, and maintaining equity appear to us to be very good generally. We believe the Court will approve of this formula.

Unfortunately, we continue to believe that the overall funding level is woefully inadequate and for that reason, we believe the Court will find the funding to be inadequate to resolve the Gannon case.

KNEA’s top priority for this session continues to be the passage of a new school finance formula that is constitutional in the adequacy of funding, the equity in fund distribution, and the policy governing the distribution and targeting of education funding.

The bottom line is, schools must open on time under a new and constitutional school funding formula. Nothing should be done to jeopardize constitutionality.

Secondly, we want the legislature to restore fiscal sanity to our income tax policies. This demands the restoration of the third income tax bracket, the repeal of the LLC income tax loophole, and the end of the glide path to zero income tax. These three items are essential if Kansas is ever to recover from Brownback’s disastrous experiment. A revenue system must be established that puts Kansas back on the path to stability, balances the budget without further cuts to state services, and funds a new school finance system approved by the Court.

It will take many years to undo the damage caused by Brownback’s tax disaster. The legislature must start now.

It’s time to address both of those priorities. Today is June 2. The Court has given the Legislature until June 30 to fix our school funding system. We do not believe HB 2186 will meet constitutional muster, but something has to get over to the Court for review. If the Court rejects it, the Legislature will still have time to work before school starts in August. The longer we wait, the harder it will be to meet that deadline.

We are encouraged by the progress of the school finance conference committee. It looks like we are very close to getting that bill done. We hope the tax committee can get a new package together quickly for review.

Let’s get it to the Court and let’s hear if we are going to have a July special session.


When is Due Process NOT Due Process?

KNEA has been appealing to legislators to restore due process for Kansas teachers ever since it was repealed in a deceitful act in the wee hours of an April morning in 2014. We’ve fought for it in court and the Statehouse.

Early this year, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment by Rep. Jerry Stogsdill (R-Prairie Village) that would have enacted a full restoration of due process rights for all Kansas teachers just as they existed prior to repeal. The bill that would have done that passed the House with a strong majority – 72 votes – on February 22. Sadly, it never moved in the Senate.

Today as we sat in the conference committee on HB 2186, the school finance bill, we were thrown for a loop when Rep. Clay Aurand (R-Belleville) brought out what he called a “thought balloon” during the discussion. Explaining that the House had passed a due process restoration bill, he suggested the conference committee consider his thought balloon. The balloon would restore due process rights to those teachers eligible prior to the 2014 repeal. The due process procedures would be the same as before.

BUT… (there’s always a “but,” isn’t there) the whole provision would sunset in 2019. In other words, due process would be restored for some teachers for just two years.

Aurand asserted that this would give the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB), United School Administrators (USA), and KNEA two years to negotiate a new due process law that would be acceptable to all. Unfortunately, this provision shows a serious lack of understanding of the word “negotiate.” In a real negotiation two parties with equal power come together to seek compromise and find common ground. When one party is given all the power, there is no negotiation. Under the Aurand construct, one party could simply throw up roadblocks to compromise for two years. At that time due process is lost for all teachers and that party did not have to even consider any concessions. It’s not a negotiation when one party holds the other dangling at the edge of a deadly cliff.

KNEA does not support the Aurand “thought balloon” for several reasons;

  1. it does not restore due process for all teachers and would codify new teachers as second-class citizens lacking full professional rights,
  2. it is a temporary restoration sunsetting in two years,
  3. if it is intended to encourage negotiation, it does not since it gives all power to one side, and
  4. the House position is full restoration of due process.
Watch for more on these topics tomorrow.

 

 

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