Cuts Killed

Mar 16, 2017 by

The Senate considered three amendments to cut state services including K-12 and higher education tonight and defeated all three by large margins.

The first amendment with a 2% across the board cut (requiring the cut to K-12 to be from non-instructional budget lines) was offered by Senator Wagle (R-Wichita). After a lengthy debate, the amendment failed on a roll call vote of 7 – 33. The seven Senators voting in favor of cutting schools were Alley, Fitzgerald, Lynn, Olson, Pyle, Tyson, and Wagle.

The second amendment, offered by Senator Dennis Pyle (R-Hiawatha), was the same but with a cut of 1% across the board. This amendment failed on a roll call vote of 10 – 30. The ten senators voting in favor of cutting schools were Alley, Fitzgerald, Lynn, Masterson, Olson, Petersen, Pilcher-Cook, Pyle, Tyson, and Wagle.

The third and final cut amendment, also offered by Senator Pyle, would have cut schools by 0.5%. This amendment failed on a vote of 6-34. The six Senators voting to cut education were Alley, Olson, Pilcher-Cook, Pyle, Tyson, and Wagle. You will note that Senator Lynn voted NO on this amendment. She explained her change by saying she had voted for larger cuts.

On an emergency final action vote after 9:00 pm, the rescission bill WITHOUT CUTS TO STATE SERVICES OR EDUCATION passed on a vote of 27-13.

 

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What About Those Cuts?

Mar 16, 2017 by

The Senate went into session and quickly recessed until “the sound of the gavel.” This would be an indication that something leadership wants to pass is in trouble. We would assume that the Senate President may understand that her cuts amendment will not pass and has recessed to work on persuading members to join her cause.

The Senate reconvened about 4:20 and started work on their list of bills. HB 2052 is down the list and they are engaged in debates and amendments on other bills at this time. We will watch this tonight and report to you tomorrow.

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School Finance! School Cuts?

Mar 15, 2017 by

Senate Likely to Debate Rescission Bill Tomorrow

Governor Brownback and Senator Susan Wagle

The rescission bill (Senate Sub for HB 2052) we discussed earlier this week will almost certainly be up for debate tomorrow afternoon in the Senate. The bill does not contain any cuts to state agencies but Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) told the press today that she intends to offer an amendment containing across the board cuts to state agencies for fiscal year 2017 (which ends on June 30) during the debate.

Wagle has not said what level those cuts might be except that they will be less than 5%. The Senate earlier was to consider a bill with a 5% cut to K-12 education but it was pulled from debate when it became clear it could never pass. Whatever the cuts turn out to be, if passed they will apply to both K-12 and higher education.

We do not believe there is support in the Senate for any cuts but it’s best to be ready!

TAKE ACTION NOW! CLICK HERE

More Discussion on School Finance Bill

The House K-12 Budget Committee has spent the last three days trying to come to a consensus on what will be in the “Chairman’s Bill” on school finance. Chairman Larry Campbell (R-Olathe) has announced that his bill will be ready early next week. He then plans to give a little time for it to be digested by the committee and stakeholders before holding hearings which he suggested may last several days.

So far it appears that the formula will be similar to the old formula – likely a base amount with weightings to get to special needs such as at-risk and bilingual students. There was some discussion about how those weightings should be calculated. Today there seemed to be a general consensus to stick with free lunch for at-risk although there could be an effort to create a “blended” formula combining free lunch with students receiving services through a Department of Children and Families program. There was also an effort today to add additional all-risk funding for students not meeting at least two of the KSDE at-risk indicators. This would be similar to the old “non-proficient” at risk. KNEA has been a strong proponent of this to ensure that students who live in wealthy communities but are not performing satisfactorily get the help they need to be successful.

Not much has been said about other parts of the old formula including capital outlay, new facilities weighting, and ancillary weighting. Also brought up in passing were declining enrollment weighting and cost of living weighting but there was little discussion. It is hard to tell if these will be included in the Chairman’s bill or not.

There was support today for all day Kindergarten and pre-school school readiness programs as well as mentoring for teachers and professional development.

Two contentious issues surfaced yesterday when Brenda Landwehr (R-Wichita) suggested an expansion of the tuition tax credit or voucher program and Scott Schwab (R-Olathe) suggested merit pay for teachers. Neither were discussed in depth.

Also unknown is how the bill might address accountability. Some believe accountability belongs with the State Board of Education and KSDE while others seem to want it addressed in the finance bill.

It is possible that this will be a bare-bones proposal. The Chairman told his committee members to feel free to prepare to offer any amendments they may have in mind.

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Senate puts out rescission bill after all; no school funding cuts… yet.

Mar 13, 2017 by

The Senate Ways and Means Committee this morning tentatively approved its rescission bill intended to solve the 2017 budget hole. They plan to move the bill out to the full Senate tomorrow. A vote on the floor is expected on Wednesday or more likely Thursday of this week.

The bill does not contain a 2% cut to education as was rumored. However, Senator Jim Denning (R-Overland Park) has indicated in press reports that he fully expects there to be an attempt to amend cuts into the bill once it gets to the floor for debate.

The House plan to get out of the 2017 mess created by the reckless Brownback tax cuts would delay a KPERS payment this year and not repay the lost payment from last year. In addition, it would borrow $317 million from the pooled money investment board (PMIB) and repay that loan over seven years.

The Senate version would repay the KPERS money taken from last year and take another $150 million this year to be paid back over 20 years. It would also borrow about $100 million from the PMIB instead of the full $317 million in the House plan.

Of course, any repayment plans depend on both chambers passing a comprehensive tax reform package that ends the Brownback experiment.

NOW IS THE TIME to tell your Senator to vote NO on any amendment that would cut school funding.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION NOW!

House K-12 Budget Committee Begins Writing a Plan

Today the House education budget committee began to piece together ideas for a new school funding formula. In an interesting twist, Chairman Larry Campbell (R-Olathe) turned over the Committee to Rep. Clay Aurand (R-Belleville) to handle the discussion.

In the early discussions, it would appear that the new formula would be very similar to the old formula and based perhaps on the ideas in HB 2270 (the Rooker bill) and HB 2324 (the Trimmer bill). There was consensus that they would not use the census based at-risk funding proposal but might go with a blend of poverty and “direct certification” (students certified by DCF for services). There was no consensus on a non-proficient at-risk weighting.

Bilingual weighting was discussed and there seemed to be some interest in another blend – basing funding on contact hours with certified bilingual staff and an FTE headcount. On CTE weighting, there is significant interest in looking at actual costs of individual programs and funding them accordingly.

At the end of the meeting today, Aurand brought up one of his old ideas (one that has never passed). Ever since the Montoy decision, Aurand has been proposing that the state “take credit” for more funding by calling a large portion of locally raised LOB money “foundation funding” and requiring it to be levied. Aurand told the committee he wanted this proposal in the bill.

Discussion will continue tomorrow.

 

 

 

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Senate leadership wants to cut education? Really?

Mar 10, 2017 by

UPDATE: 9:00 p.m. After receiving several messages from you, we’ve received word from key Senators that they will be taking the weekend to review this development.  We are suspending our action alert at this time.  Stay tuned early next week for more information.

PREVIOUSLY:

Senators Wagle and Denning

What we are hearing is that Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) and Senator Jim Denning (R-Overland Park) are spearheading plans to debate a rescission bill impacting the current fiscal year.  Reports are that this bill includes as much as a 2% cut (estimated $60 million) to public schools for the current school year. In other words, schools would lose 2% of their annual budget and have to make up for their loss during the last few months of the school year.  Talk under the dome is that a hearing could come on the floor of the Senate by Wednesday.  The fiscal year ends on June 30.

We do not have a bill number yet but it’s time to take action.

If you attend a back home legislative forum this weekend tell your Senator to vote NO on any bill that would cut school funding. Instead, they must work to adequately fund our public schools as directed by the Supreme Court.

 

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