Taking on the Anti-Teacher Legislature and the Anti-Education Chamber

Sep 7, 2016 by

The “Tenure” Myth

Former Governor John Carlin teaching at K-State University

Former Governor John Carlin teaching at K-State University. Click the photo to read original article on Salina.com

One of the hallmarks of Governor Brownback’s leadership is that he has encouraged his servants in the state legislature to trash public school teachers as often as possible. They stripped teachers and other public employees of the right to contribute to their political action committee via payroll deduction while leaving that option available to employees of Koch Industries. They have raided the public employee pension plan. They tried to end collective bargaining for teachers. They tried to deny union representation to teachers. And, most notably, in the dark of night with no public hearings or discussion, they stripped teachers of their due process rights.

Recently former Kansas Governor John Carlin wrote about teacher due process on his blog, John W. Carlin and Civic Leadership. Carlin explains the issue quite well and dispels the myth the Kansas teachers ever had “tenure.” You can read his post here. We hope you will spread it far and wide!

http://www.johnwcarlin.com/blog/due-process-is-not-tenure

The Truth About the Kansas Chamber

In an op-ed in the Hays Post, Wichita State University political science professor Ed Flentje exposes the Kansas Chamber of Commerce for what they really are – a shill for the Koch brothers.

Flentje notes that most of the money they spend on political activities (and it was a whopping $2.2 million from 2012 to 2016) has come from four entities – Koch Industries, Murfin Drilling, Crossland Construction, and Justin Hill of Lawrence Paper Company.

Of course the Chamber has become such a toxic brand they have resorted now to shipping off their political money into a couple of sweet-sounding, Chamber managed PACs in the hopes that no one will follow the trail of cash. If you get mail from the “Quality Schools for All Kansas Kids PAC” or the “Mainstreet Kansas PAC,” just know that you’re really getting mail from Koch Industries via the Kansas Chamber.

Read Flentje’s op-ed on the Hays Post website. Again, we hope you will spread it far and wide!

http://www.hayspost.com/2016/09/01/insight-kansas-tail-wags-chamber-dog/

Noteworthy:  Former Governor John Carlin and Kansas Chamber of Commerce CEO Mike O’Neal will be featured in an upcoming broadcast of KCUR’s Statehouse Blend.  Click Here for more information.

read more

Senate to Consider Bill Ending Teacher Representation This Week

Mar 13, 2016 by

special edition red square 3d realistic isolated web button

TAKE ACTION NOW! END ATTACKS ON PUBLIC EDUCATION AND EDUCATION PROFESSIONALS

Last week, Senator Julia Lynn, demonstrating her anti-teacher zealotry, railroaded a bill through the Commerce Committee that, if enacted as it came out of committee, would essentially end the ability of teachers to have representation in collective bargaining.

Senate Bill 469 would require that a teachers association would have to be recertified as the representative every three years by gaining more than 50% or all persons eligible to vote in a representation election. The ballot would be required to have as candidates the current representative, any other organization that sought recognition, and an option of “no representation.”

Under the required vote standard, an organization that received even 100% of the votes cast, could lose the election if only 49% of those eligible to vote did so. If this standard were to be applied to Kansas Senate elections, no member of the current Senate Commerce Committee would have been elected – even the two who ran unopposed!

Another section of the bill says that if the Department of Labor was unable to get to a vote in a district, the local representative would automatically be decertified and could not stand for a new election for a period of 36 months, leaving teachers in that district without a contract or representative for a three full years! The Department of Labor does not employ enough staff to manage the nearly 300 elections called for in the bill.

This bill was opposed in the hearing by the Kansas Association of School Boards, United School Administrators of Kansas, the Kansas School Superintendents Association, and Kansas NEA. Those who stood for the bill were the Kansas Policy Institute’s Dave Trabert, the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity, and the Association of American Educators which is funded in large part by right wing foundations.

Lynn, after hearing from the anti-union proponents and before opponents were given a chance to speak, announced publicly that the bill would be passed out of committee and rushed to the full Senate. Lynn apparently does not like to be bothered by anyone whose thoughts conflict with hers.

True to her word, the bill was railroaded out of committee but not before Lynn had to deny a Democratic Senator an opportunity to offer an amendment and then cutting off KNEA General Counsel David Schauner in the middle of a response to a question from a committee member.

There are a number of things that disturb us about the handling of this bill.

One is the obvious lack of respect for dissenting opinions and willingness to ignore fundamental democratic principles demonstrated by Senator Lynn in her management of the committee and the issue.

The other is the bill itself whose sole purpose is to deny teachers – and only teachers – any voice in their working conditions, salaries, and benefits.

To weigh in on this bill with Senators before the debate in the full Senate, click here.

read more

Things Begin Moving Under the Dome

May 7, 2015 by

Tax talks

Thanks to Governor Brownback’s reckless income tax cuts of 2012 and 2013, the state faces a budget gap of about $800 million over the next two years. Filling that gap will require either raising taxes or massive cuts to services.

Legislative committees were briefed on the gravity of the situation as they returned from the April break and it’s taken until now for ideas to come forward other than the Governor’s proposal to raise tobacco and liquor .

There is little legislative interest in the tobacco and liquor tax proposal and no one in the Legislature or the Administration has yet proposed rolling back the income tax cuts that caused the problem. Instead, legislators are looking at “consumption taxes.” That’s just a fancy way of saying “sales tax increase.”

During the depths of the great recession, Kansas temporarily raised the sales tax from 5.7% to 6.3% to shore up a budget pounded by the economic collapse of 2008-09. The rate was set to return to 5.7% but to pay for the reckless tax cuts the Legislature, at the request of Brownback, reversed course and kept the rate at 6.15% where it is now.

A proposal gaining traction in the House is to raise the sales tax to 6.5% which would generate about $163 million in revenue. Sales tax increases are popular among legislators because they believe you won’t notice. They know that when you file your income tax, you actually see how much you’re paying. And when you get your property tax notice, you see exactly what you owe. Both of those can be large numbers. But sales taxes nickel-and-dime you. It’s hard to see just what you’re paying in sales tax because it is applied in small amounts here and there. One is tricked into thinking it’s not very much.

The Kansas tax system is one of the most regressive in the nation, thanks to our reckless tax cuts passed in 2012 and 2013.  Sales tax is the biggest culprit. It represents a large percentage of a low income earner’s salary. Since Kansas is one of only 14 states that imposes a sales tax on groceries, this makes the tax even more burdensome for the poor. To make matters worse, in order to soften the blow of his income tax cuts, Brownback also repealed the sales tax rebate on food that helped offset the burden for the poorest Kansans.

Overall, the poorest 20% of Kansans pay 11.1% of their income in taxes while the wealthiest 1% of Kansans pay only 3.6%. This is the hallmark of a regressive, unfair tax system – the more one earns, the less one pays in taxes as a percentage of income. This will only get worse with an increase in the sales tax.

 

This chart from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) shows the percentage of income paid in taxes by each quintile of taxpayers in Kansas. The wealthiest quintile is further divided into 15%, the next 4%, and the 1% of wealthiest Kansans. The data is for 2015. (http://www.itep.org/whopays/states/kansas.php)

KansasAll

 

This chart shows the impact in 2013 of the tax cuts enacted by Governor Brownback. (http://realprosperityks.com/kac/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/who_pays.jpg)

who_pays

 

AFP carpet-bombs Kansas with anti-tax mailers

Are you one of the many Kansans getting mail from Americans for Prosperity lauding certain legislators for promises to not raise taxes and urging you to call them and tell them to stick to the pledge?

AFP – an organization founded and funded by the Koch brothers – wants the Legislature to gut state services in order to protect the tax cuts that have benefited only the wealthiest Kansans.

While schools are having to close early and beg for some extra money from the SB 7 “extraordinary needs fund” and road projects are being set aside as the Legislature drains the highway fund of money, AFP is advocating that legislators do nothing to solve the revenue problem but instead focus on destroying state services.

 When is a dollar not a dollar?

The answer in Topeka is simple – when it’s a tax dollar returned to a corporation.

Last year the Legislature passed a tuition tax credit bill for corporations. In a move to begin the privatization of public education in Kansas, the Legislature passed a bill providing for a 70% tax credit for any corporation that would entice a child out of a public school by giving that child tuition money for a private school. They did put some limits on the bill, requiring that the student would have to be a low-income student from a Title I priority school.

If a corporation gave that student $8,000 in tuition money, the state would allow the corporation to cut $5,600 from their state tax bill. The $8,000 tuition bill would only cost the corporation $2,400.

Some legislators would like to expand this bill so that any student would qualify. Private schools could work with corporations to find the most brilliant students or the most athletic students and get their tuition paid. Private schools under this bill do not even have to be accredited – the state would be losing $5,600 in tax revenue for every student getting his/her tuition paid at an unaccredited school!

Supporters of this idea would have you believe this does not cost the state anything. In reality, it does. It costs the state up to $10 million in lost tax revenue that could be put to funding public education, reducing social service caseloads, or repairing roadways.

 

 

 

read more