The Very Beginnings of Education Budget Talks

Mar 6, 2018 by

The House K-12 Budget Committee today heard the budget appeal from the State Department of Education.

Agencies provide budget appeals when the Governor’s budget differs from the Agency requests.

Committee chairman Fred Patton (R-Topeka) indicated to the committee that they would be hearing the appeal for the 2018 and 2019 KSDE budget but that they would only forward recommendations on the 2018 budget to the Appropriations Committee.

This set up some conflict in the committee with Democrats Jim Ward, Ed Trimmer, Tom Sawyer, and Henry Helgerson arguing that it felt irresponsible to put off decisions on 2019 until later with the specter of the Supreme Court decision weighing heavily. Trimmer made a motion to recommend all of the agency’s appeals to the Appropriations committee and, after some significant discussion, withdrew the motion saying their points had been made. And also realizing that such a motion would not pass.

Rep. Brenda Landwehr (R-Wichita) argued that it was wrong to put schools above all other agencies which have been starved for several years. Trimmer then said that those agencies had been starved only because the majority had willingly gone along with the Brownback tax experiment that ultimately gutted the state’s revenue picture (a tax experiment that no Democrat had voted in favor of).

In the end, they made two recommendations on the 2018 budget to forward to the Appropriations Committee.

First, they dealt with an appeal on the Monumental Building Fee – a fee that is charged by the Department of Administration to the KSDE but for which no money is provided. The fee, collected from several agencies, is used to maintain the Capitol, the Judicial Center, and Cedar Crest. This would require an additional $162,141 for the KSDE. A motion by Rep. Sawyer (D-Wichita) to provide the additional funds was adopted. Rep. Landwehr moved to request the Appropriations Committee to introduce legislation exempting the Department from the fee in the future. That motion also passed.

The only other issue dealt with was the Excel in Career Technical Education Initiative. Under this program when a high school student earns an industry-recognized credential in a high-demand occupation while in high school, the student’s school is to receive a $1000 incentive. Funding available for this program is only enough to provide $35 per student. On a motion from Rep. Melissa Rooker (R-Fairway) additional funding is provided to make the appropriate payments.

Landwehr made the motion to forward these two recommendations for 2018 to the Appropriations Committee. The motion passed on a voice vote.

At this point, Patton asked what the committee’s will was as to the 2019 budget appeals. Hearing no response, he made a motion himself to lapse the 2019 budget and to take it up again at omnibus – the session ending mega-budget building process. The motion passed on a voice vote with Democrats Ward, Helgerson, Trimmer, and Lusk being recorded as NO and Republican Scott Schwab being recorded as YES.

Tomorrow the Committee will be discussing early childhood education initiatives and benefits.

 

read more

Your advocacy works! Support Evaporates for Senate Tax Plan and Ed Cuts

Feb 9, 2017 by

Post Highlights

  • The Senate convened at 8:00 this morning and almost immediately shut down when it became clear that there was no possibility of getting 21 votes to cut schools or pass an inadequate tax plan.
  • In pulling the bills (SB 27 and SB 147) and ending the discussion for the day, Senate President Susan Wagle announced that they would not consider anything else until budget and tax plans were resolved.
  • As the revenue crisis continues in Kansas, the state has earned yet another credit downgrade from Standard and Poor’s.
  • On Monday, the House K-12 Education Budget Committee will hear HB 2142 which would establish a consolidated health benefit program for schools.
  • On Tuesday, the House Education Committee will hear HB 2179, a bill restoring due process or fair dismissal protections to Kansas teachers.

Senate Tax and Cuts Plans Derailed

You and many other public education advocates answered the call last night, you contacted your Senators and enough of them listened.

The Senate convened at 8:00 this morning and almost immediately shut down when it became clear that there was no possibility of getting 21 votes to cut schools or pass an inadequate tax plan.

Senate Bill 27 would have cut K-12 and higher education by $154 million (a 5% cut to K-12 and 3% to the Regents) while Senate Bill 147 would have increased income tax rates, ended the income tax exemption for the poorest Kansans, and repealed retroactively the LLC loophole.

While the bills were supported by Senate leadership and did have enough committee votes to make it to the full Senate, the blowback from voters forced many to rethink whether or not they represented the best way out of Kansas’ current revenue crisis. Voters in August and November ousted most of Brownback’s most ardent legislative allies replacing them with moderate Republicans and Democrats who campaigned on no more cuts to our schools and reversing the Brownback tax disaster. Overnight Kansans from border to border blasted the bills on social media and in messages directly to Senators.

The bills before the Senate would have done nothing to stop the ongoing fiscal crisis. While the cuts to education and other state services might have helped patch the hole in FY 2017, the tax increase would have raised only about $280 million in FY 2018. Most analysts believe Kansas needs at least $580 million to get through next year. Additionally, while SB 147 did raise income tax rates and repeal the LLC loophole, it continued the Brownback glide path to zero income tax so that even if it did put some money in, it all would be for naught when the glide path kicked back in reducing revenue further.

In pulling the bills and ending the discussion for the day, Senate President Susan Wagle announced that they would not consider anything else until budget and tax plans were resolved.

Democrats have now reached across the aisle to try to work a bipartisan solution that would garner enough votes to override a potential gubernatorial veto. That would take 27 votes instead of the 21 votes needed for simple passage.


Yet Another State Credit Downgrade

As the revenue crisis continues in Kansas, the state has earned yet another credit downgrade from Standard and Poor’s. We believe this is the fourth credit downgrade under Brownback’s leadership.

S&P Global Ratings has now dropped the states AA minus stable rating to AA-minus negative. They specifically cited the move to securitize the tobacco settlement monies, liquidate capital reserves, and pension underfunding as problems.

Lower bond ratings negatively impact investment in Kansas as potential bond investors look to more secure places in which to invest.

S&P said that Kansas has a one in three chance of getting yet another downgrade in the next two years.

There is a solution, however. That is to stop relying on gimmicks and one-time transfers or shifts to balance budgets. Get off of Governor Brownback’s runaway train wreck by reworking the Kansas tax system. End the glide path to zero, repeal the LLC loophole, add another income tax bracket for higher income levels and stop selling off the state’s assets to fill holes.


Two Important Hearings Next Week

On Monday, the House K-12 Education Budget Committee will hear HB 2142 which would establish a consolidated health benefit program for schools.

The bill explicitly requires a high deductible insurance plan, prohibiting any that are not high deductible. This essentially guarantees that the savings will come out of employee’s pockets.

If all savings generated by the move to a consolidated plan were left in the school districts to be passed on to employees in higher salaries, it is conceivable that in some of those districts the higher salary might offset the higher costs to employees. Since the Governor’s budget proposal assumes any savings would be diverted into the state’s general fund, we can only assume that all savings would be clawed back by the state or result in reduced funding to school districts.

Employees then are left with fewer health benefits and no opportunity to offset the loss of benefits with an increase in salary. This plan truly represents a $25 million reduction in compensation for school employees across the state.

The LPA auditors examined the impact this consolidation would have on 101 of the state’s school districts. In 98 of those, employee benefits would be reduced by an average of 6% with some districts see a 14% drop in benefits. Only three districts in the study currently have lower benefits that the consolidation plan would have. But since the bill allows school districts not to join the plan, those district would more than likely stay with their less expensive low-benefit plans.

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee will hear HB 2179, a bill restoring due process or fair dismissal protections to Kansas teachers.

Due process was repealed in 2014 in a backdoor manner with no bill introduction and no public hearing. Many of our readers were with us in the statehouse at 4:00 am when the repeal happened after House members were locked in the chamber for hours until the 63rd vote could be secured.

This time the bill has 45 bipartisan co-sponsors. We look forward to the hearing and expect Chairman Aurand to work the bill and allow a committee vote.

 

read more

Brownback cuts more from education

Feb 5, 2015 by

Governor cuts $44.5 million from education for this year!

Responding to more bad news about the impact of his tax cuts, Governor Brownback has issued additional cuts in an effort to balance the budget. Month after month of declining tax receipts continue to pressure the ability of the state to pay the bills and, unlike the federal government, the state cannot run a deficit.

The latest cuts are hitting directly at education with a 2% cut to higher education and a 1.5% cut to K-12 education to take effect on March 7. The combined cuts total $44.5 million.

The House had recently passed a bill intended to deal with the initial deficit but in January revenue continued to drop necessitating the cuts announced by the Governor today. The Senate is debating that bill today.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee has been debating a change in the calculation of the Local Option Budget (LOB) that would cut K-12 funding by $39 million in the current year and the prior allotments included reductions in state payments to KPERS.

The simple fact of the matter is that the tax cuts demanded by Governor Brownback and passed by the Legislature have decimated the state’s revenue stream. The Kansas economy is lagging most other states including our neighbors, revenue collections continue to come in below expectations, and still the Legislature is hesitant to address the underlying problem of unsustainable tax cuts.

Tragedy 

Very sad news came out of Wichita today. Rep. Dennis Hedke’s wife, Annette, was tragically killed when she was struck by a vehicle in a parking lot after falling. Rep. Hedke is in his third term in the Kansas House. He serves as a member of the House Education Committee and as Chairman of the House Energy and Environment Committee.

We ask that everyone keep Rep. Hedke and his family in their thoughts and prayers at this time.

Mark Desetti, Director of Political Advocacy & Government Relations
read more

Related Posts

Share This