Bad PNA Bill Voted Down in Senate!

Mar 25, 2015 by

Senate votes down Melcher PNA bill

Video Update:

Yesterday we reported that the Senate had approved an amendment by Sen. Jeff Melcher that changed the PNA bill agreed to by KNEA, KASB, USA/KS, and KSSA into a bill that all opposed. The Melcher amendment would have allowed the negotiation of only minimum salaries and prohibited the negotiation of any fair dismissal or due process procedures in non-renewals. Additionally the amendment ended the continuing contract law and fact-finding as part of the negotiation process.

The Senate had earlier pass a PNA bill agreed to by educators on a unanimous vote but yesterday, 20 of those senators reversed course in voting for the Melcher amendment.

The bill – now in HB 2326 – was up for a final action vote on the floor of the Senate this morning. A preliminary count on the vote showed the bill with only 18 votes – three short of the required 21 for passage. A call of the House was put on to force some who had passed to vote.

As those votes were cast, the vote turned to 19 ayes and 21 nos. With the bill losing, other Senators then changed their vote and the bill was defeated on a vote of 13 to 27.

At this point, the bill is considered killed although there is the possibility that someone might try a motion to reconsider the bill. We will be watching for this the rest of today and on Monday.

Voting NO on the bill were:

Bowers, Denning, Donovan, Faust-Goudeau, Fitzgerald, Francisco, Haley, Hawk, Hensley, Holland, Holmes, Kelly, Kerschen, King, LaTurner, Longbine, Love, McGinn, O’Donnell, Ostmeyer, Petersen, Pettey, Schmidt, Smith, Wagle, Wilborn, and Wolf

Voting YES were:

Abrams, Arpke, Baumgardner, Bruce, Knox, Lynn, Masterson, Melcher, Olson, Pilcher-Cook, Powell, Pyle, and Tyson

Senate Ed Committee Finishes Hearing on Abrams Finance Bill

The Senate Education Committee met over lunch again today to finish the hearing on SB 294, Senator Abrams’ pilot school finance proposal.

Testifying today were Chris Brown of the Tea Party’s Kansans for Liberty, Mark Tallman of KASB, Mark Desetti of KNEA, and Cheryl Semmel of USA/KS. All testified as neutral suggesting that the bill had some interesting ideas but also raised concerns.

KNEA specifically mentioned concerns about the proposed Success Incentive funds. While the plan is to reward school districts whose graduates move into higher education or the workplace in the 24 months following graduation, there is no way currently to gather the data required for making all of these decisions. Additionally, they don’t account for those who choose to take low-wage jobs after graduation to save money for college. The plan will also likely raise very serious concerns for those who already have problems with the sharing of individual student data.

Since the bill is double-referred to both Education and Ways and Means it must be approved by both committees in order to be sent to the floor. It is awfully late in the session for such major legislation to be considered.

We’ll be tracking this bill over the next week.

Legislature to be out until next week

Today is second turn around, the day by which bills must have been voted on by the second chamber in order to go on. Bills that don’t get through the second chamber and are not in an exempt committee will die tonight.

Of course, as all of us learned last April, no bad idea ever dies. Please remain connected and vigilant through the last Legislative day sometime in May!



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School Finance Pilot; Payroll Deduction; On the Floor

Mar 23, 2015 by

School Finance Pilot Project     

Senator Steve Abrams (R-Arkansas City) has released a proposed school finance formula pilot project in Senate Bill 249.

Abrams, a former member of the State Board of Education, has long had an interest in the school finance formula and this is his vision moving forward. With the two-year block grant proposal on the Governor’s desk, Abrams is proposing piloting a new formula with the six school district members of the Coalition of Innovative Districts (Hugoton, Blue Valley, Concordia, Marysville, McPherson, and Kansas City).

The Abrams plan would have essentially five components:

  • Enrollment State Aid set at $3820/student based on headcount, not FTE,
  • Poverty State Aid based on each districts poverty as determined by US Census Bureau Data,
  • Sparsity State Aid based on the sparsity of population in the school district,
  • Success Incentive State Aid, based on the performance of school district graduates in the 24 months after graduation, and
  • State Equalization Aid, based not just on assessed valuation per pupil but also factoring in federal adjusted gross income in the district, and home values in the district.

School districts would be able to levy a local property tax which would be known as the Local Portion Levy Budget which would be equalized under the new State Equalization Aid formula.

The bill is based on flat funding as is the case with the Block Grant bill. It continues the current 20 mill state-wide school mill levy for another two years.

Probably the biggest sticking point in the bill is the Success Incentive program which would require the gathering of a significant amount of data on district graduates.

The bill defines student success in the following way:

A successful student is one who, within two years after graduating from high school, has:

  1. Enrolled in a third consecutive semester at a postsecondary educational institution or private or out-of-state postsecondary educational institution;
  2. obtained an industry-recognized credential;
  3. entered basic training in one of the branches of the United States military;
  4. been employed, including self-employment, with an annual income that is not less than 250% of the federal poverty level; or
  5. been employed not less than 30 hours per week and had an individual education program as a child with a disability at the time such student graduated from high school.

Obviously this would require a significant amount of data collection which is not currently being done. Legislators – particularly House members – have shown a reluctance to allow the collection and sharing of student data especially if that data is personally identifiable. There have been a number of bills this year and last to restrict student data collection.

There will be a hearing on this bill in the Senate Education Committee tomorrow. It has been double-referred to both the Education and Ways and Means Committee so it would need to pass both to move to the full Senate.

Senate still has time to ban payroll deduction

House Bill 2096 was not on the Senate floor today. I could be by tomorrow.

This bill strips state and municipal employees of most of their collective bargaining rights and prohibits payroll deduction for things not required by statute or an employee benefits program. The right to payroll deduction for association dues and other voluntary programs would end.

Make sure you contact your Senator and urge him/her to vote NO on HB 2096.

Click here to access the KNEA Legislative contact portal! Click here for a roster of Senators with phone numbers and emails.

Three days “on the floor”

For today, tomorrow and Wednesday, legislators in both chambers will be on the floor – in Committee of the Whole – to clear out the backlog of bills on their calendars. Bills that are not in exempt committees must pass the second chamber by Wednesday in order to move forward.

The Legislature will be out Thursday and Friday, then return on Monday. Friday, April 3 is “drop dead day.” It is the day by which legislation is done with the exception of the final budget and revenue acts.




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