The Senate Select Committee on School Finance held a hearing and then worked Senate Bill 142, a school finance bill to address the Gannon inflation fix.
The Governor’s school finance bill, SB 44, was split into two bills – SB 142 and SB 147 – with SB 142 referred to the Senate Select Committee on School Finance and SB 147 to the Ways and Means Committee. Together, these two bills match exactly what was in SB 44.
Complicating the discussion this week was the discovery by Schools for Fair Funding (SFFF) that both SB 44 and SB 142 were not written in a way that reflected the plaintiff districts’ interpretation of the Gannon decision. Their interprertation is that the state needed to provide an additional inflation factor above any new
The State Board of Education, however, adopted a position that the requirement was to provide the inflation factor one time and then simply carry it forward. There is a large difference in funding between these two positions.
Today, SFFF presented testimony in opposition to SB 142 while KASB testified in favor saying they supported the State Board. Also in opposition was the Kansas Policy Institute essentially because they believe the Court can’t tell the legislature what to do.
KNEA testified as neutral, telling the committee that we had the same interpretation of the Gannon decision as SFFF and noting that there were two interpretations in the room. The only ones to say what the actual meaning in the Court’s decision
Said KNEA lobbyist Mark Desetti, “If you send this over to the Court, SFFF will argue against it while the AG will defend it. In the end the Court will decide if this is enough or not.”
KNEA put our position this way:
We ask that the Legislature do two things.
First, leave the finance formula alone. It has been determined to meet constitutionality in terms of equity. Any alterations to the formula, any efforts to have additional funds directed in new or specific ways will simply raise the possibility of once again harming equity. The best thing to do is to put new money on base aid as this not only helps students generally but impacts other aspects of the formula such as at-risk and bilingual funding.
Secondly, provide the inflation fix in each of the out years in a way that gets us to the Montoy “harbor” accounting for inflation.
We firmly believe that if you do these two things, you will resolve the Gannon case and end this cycle of litigation.
After the hearing, the bill was brought to the table for discussion and passed out of committee favorable for passage by the full Senate. It will now go to the Senate for debate and possible action.
In the meantime, we await a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee on SB 147, the rest of the education budget.
Big tax bill – SB 22 – up on the House floor tomorrow!
This year’s big tax cut bill is up for a vote tomorrow on the House floor. The bill includes a huge cut in taxes on multi-national corporations, permission for a few higher-income Kansans to continue itemization on state income taxes, a one cent reduction in the food sales tax, and a new provision allowing for
KNEA opposes this bill as it strips over $200 million out of the state treasury before the budget has been passed and before school finance is resolved. The state is still digging out of the Brownback tax disaster; to start cutting taxes of this magnitude at this time is irresponsible.
We urge you to contact you Representative using the link below. Say, “PLEASE VOTE NO ON SB 22!”