School Finance Committee Cancelled Again

Apr 4, 2017 by

The House K-12 Education Budget Committee – the current home of HB 2410, the school finance formula that started being crafted last week – was cancelled again today. Chairman Larry Campbell (R-Olathe) announced on the floor of the House his intention to work tomorrow.

Shortly after the announcement, the following statement was released by Chairman Campbell’s office:

K-12 BUDGET COMMITTEE

FOCUSED ON CONSTITUTIONALITY OF SCHOOL FORMULA

Kansas House Leadership created the K-12 Education Budget Committee to create a new school funding formula that is constitutionally sound.

Chairman Larry Campbell stated, “After months of careful study and work on the issue of school finance, we are dedicated to writing legislation that will end the years of court battles and educational uncertainty.   When it comes to the importance of educating the children of this state, we must take the time to understand and involve all the players in finding the very best solution.”

This morning the K-12 Budget Committee was cancelled for the second day this week. House and Senate Leadership are working to reach an agreement on hiring legal counsel for this issue. Tomorrow, the committee will continue its work in developing a sensible, student-focused formula that provides all students with the best possible opportunity for excellence.

This would imply that he is waiting to finish work until legal counsel representing the legislature is there to advise the committee on any issues of constitutionality in their product.

Check back again tomorrow to see if any progress has been made.

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Ed Budget Committee Cancelled; Medicaid Override Fails

Apr 3, 2017 by

The House K-12 Education Budget Committee meeting for today was cancelled and we are not quite certain about why. We had expected the committee to meet – on Friday night Chairman Campbell had said they would likely meet to finish the transportation weighting and consider a few additional amendments. Frankly, we thought they might finish up today and send the bill out.

But the meeting was cancelled early today amid rumors of a desire to have the new legislative counsel on hand before voting the bill out (reports are that the legislature may hire former Senator Jeff King as their adviser on school finance). Another rumor is that a cost run came in unusually high and needed to be further reviewed. It’s also possible that leadership may not be fully supportive the measure being crafted in the committee.

But whatever the reason, the committee will not meet today. We will watch for an announcement about tomorrow.


House Fails to Override Brownback’s Medicaid Veto

On a vote of 81 – 44, the House failed to pass a motion to override the Governor’s veto of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. It takes an 84 vote majority to override.

This action means that there are now and will be into the foreseeable future, 150,000 low-incomed working Kansans who have no real access to health insurance. These are people whose income is too high for ACA credits but too low to pay for private insurance.

The 44 who voted NO on the override are Republican Representatives Arnberger, Aurand, Awerkamp, Barker, Blex, Carpenter, Claeys, Corbet, Davis, DeGraaf, Delperdang, Dove, Ellis, Esau, Finch, Francis, Garber, Hawkins, Highland, Hoffman, House, Huebert, Humphries, Jacob, Jones, Lakin, Landwehr, Mason, Osterman, Powell, Rafie, Rahjes, Resman, Ryckman, Schwab, Seiwert, Eric Smith, Tarwater, Thimesch, Vickrey, Weber, Whitmer, and Williams.

All 40 Democrats and 41 other Republicans voted to override.

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Schools, Medicaid, and Grinding Toward the End

Mar 27, 2017 by

School Finance Hearing Finishes; No Work Yet

The House K-12 Education Budget Committee met today and concluded three days of hearings on HB 2410, the Chairman’s bill on school finance. We have been there all three days and don’t believe we heard any proponents for the bill with the exception of a virtual school organization that rose to express support for only that portion of the bill and had no position on anything else.

Based on Chairman Larry Campbell’s (R-Olathe) previous comments, we had assumed that the committee might begin working the bill after the hearing ended but instead Campbell adjourned the committee after announcing that tomorrow’s meeting would be “on the call of the chair.” So tomorrow we will be waiting for an announcement from the floor of the House as to whether or not the committee will meet.


KanCare and Medicaid Expansion

Rep. Cindy Holscher (D-Overland Park) offered an amendment to HB 2047 to add an independent ombudsman for KanCare. Currently, if denied services, one can appeal only to the very board that denied the service. This was one of the issues raised in the highly critical federal review of KanCare that found serious problems with the Kansas system. The amendment failed 49-73. In other words, the Kansas House voted once again to deny a due process appeal, this time by persons with serious medical issues being denied services by the Colyer/Brownback health care system.

Also this afternoon, Medicaid expansion is being debated on the Senate floor. It has already passed the House with 81 votes and chances are good that it will pass the Senate after what is expected to be a lengthy debate. One of arguments most used by the opponents of expansion – the move by congressional Republicans and Donald Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act – has been neutered by the failure of “Trumpcare” in Congress last week and the statement by House Speaker Paul Ryan that “Obamacare is the law of the land for the foreseeable future.”

UPDATE: Medicaid expansion passes the Senate 25-13 but still two votes shy of a veto-proof margin.  Here’s how your Senator voted courtesy of Topeka Capital-Journal Reporter, Celia Llopis-Jepsen (interactive map):  CLICK HERE

 


Mostly Floor Action This Week; Conference Committees Next Week

This week has very few committee meetings scheduled. Instead, both chambers will convene earlier in the day to debate bills that have come out of committee with the intention of finishing such work by Thursday, Friday at the latest. This will reserve next week for conference committees to work out the differences between House and Senate versions of the same bill and then adopting or rejecting those conference committee reports.

The last day for the regular session is April 7. Legislators will then go home for three weeks, reconvening for the veto session on May 1.

 

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A Couple Big Days for Education

Mar 24, 2017 by

Yesterday’s work under the dome went longer than usual because, both the House K-12 Budget Committee and the House Education Committee both met and conducted hearings on important bills.

In the K-12 Budget Committee, the hearing on HB 2410 began. HB 2410 is the Chairman’s Bill on school finance. We explained the components of this bill earlier this week. This hearing will run for three days, ending on Monday, after which the Committee will begin the process of “working” the bill. We anticipate many amendments being offered at that time.

On the first day, testimony was offered by KASB and a number of school superintendents. Today, KNEA was one of a long list of organizations offering testimony. KNEA suggested that there were a number of points in the bill that we support but we cannot support replacing the LOB with three funds, much of which would be restricted. We also testified that the funding in the bill – $75 million in new money – is woefully inadequate and would be rejected by the Supreme Court.

Today, the same concerns brought forth by KNEA were shared in testimony from the Kansas PTA, Game On for Kansas Schools, the Eudora Superintendent, the Pratt Superintendent, and the Central Heights Superintendent.

Later yesterday, the House Education Committee held a hearing on HB 2374, a bill which would radically expand the tuition tax credit program that drains up to $10 million from the state budget to send children to private schools including unaccredited private schools. HB 2374 would expand who is eligible to get a “scholarship” and expand tax breaks by giving individuals the ability to contribute to a scholarship granting organization (SGO) and get a tax break. Currently, only corporations can get the tax break.

The bill was supported by the Kansas Policy Institute and the Kansas Chamber – two organizations working overtime to drain funding from public schools – and the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. Opposing the bill were KNEA, KASB, the League of Women Voters, Game on for Kansas Schools, Kansas Families for Education, the Mainstream Coalition, and the Kansas PTA.

Committee Chairman Clay Aurand (R-Belleville) announced at the beginning of the meeting that he would not be working bill. This means that the bill is dead for this year as a stand-alone bill. The Committee will not meet again this year.

There is a version of the bill in HB 2410 but the expansion there, while changing the definition of eligible students, does not expand the tax breaks and limits the scholarships to students attending accredited schools that do better than the trendline for post-secondary success or have an ACT performance above the state average.


The following is republished from”Walk to Restore the Revenue” Facebook Event Page:

We walk for three days (Fri 24 – Sun 26), and arrive in Topeka on Monday, March 27th. Join us for all or part, but most importantly join us Monday at 10:30 am in front of the Kansas Supreme Court Building (South of the Capitol) for our final steps into the Capitol for a rally demanding reform.

Share the Event: bit.ly/Kwalk2017

For the last four years, Kansans have walked to raise awareness of the need to fund public education. This year, education supporters are coming together with roadworkers, social workers, and other concerned citizens to support real revenue reform.

A sustainable tax policy was passed by both the House and Senate, but the Governor vetoed the policy. The House managed to override the veto, but the Senate was shy just three votes to override the veto.

Kansas is three votes away from a tax policy that will provide the structure required to sustain solid infrastructure, to provide support for vulnerable Kansans, and to invest in the education of our children.

This year the walk will again begin from three locations: Merriam, Emporia, and Manhattan.

Register to Participate/Support: bit.ly/Kwalk17
Order a t-Shirt: bit.ly/KwalkShirt

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Chairman’s Bill on School Finance is Revealed

Mar 21, 2017 by

Today we attended a briefing on the “Chairman’s Bill” on school finance in the House K-12 Education Budget Committee. While the bill is not yet in print form, the various components were explained by Revisor Jason Long and Rep. Clay Aurand (R-Belleville). Aurand had facilitated the Committee discussion, seeking consensus on what items would be included in the bill.

While there were no specifics on funding in the bill, we can share the components with you. The bill is similar to the previous school finance formula in that it contains a base funding per pupil modified by weightings.

  • Base state aid per pupil is renamed Base Aid for Student Excellence (BASE). It is multiplied by the enrollment of the district which is the average of two count dates – September 20 and February 20. BASE is adjusted by a number of weightings (explained below). This method determines the school district’s total foundation aid. The state portion of that aid is determined by subtracting local revenue sources (local foundation aid) from its total foundation aid.
  • Kindergarten students would count a 0.8 in 2017-18, 0.9 in 2018-19, and 1.0 in 2019-2020, phasing in funding for all day kindergarten.
  • Bilingual weighting will shift from a contact hours calculation to an FTE student headcount. In the briefing this was said to be a weighting of 0.1 although Aurand later noted that that number was not correct.
  • At-risk weighting is based on students on free lunch as it was in the previous formula. The weighting factor will be 0.456. There is also a high-density at-risk weighting of 0.105 for districts with more than 3,000,69% or more of which are eligible for free lunch. For districts between 2,500 and 3,000 students and between 50% and 60% free lunch there is a linear transition for the weighting.
  • Special education and related services weighting is the same as under the previous formula.
  • Ancillary school facilities weighting is replaced with new school facilities cost weighting and is calculated as ancillary facilities weighting was.
  • The Cost of Living weighting stays as it was.
  • There is no career and technical education weighting. Instead, as we understand it, districts will receive a set amount of money per pupil which may be used for CTE programs or even post-secondary dual credit course and distance learning technology.
  • The bill will reauthorize the statewide 20 mill levy.
  • The LOB is replaced with three local funding sources:
  • The Local Foundation Budget (LFB) is a mandatory levy of 20% of the district’s total foundation aid. A portion of the LFB is required to be used for at-risk and bilingual education in proportion to the district’s at-risk and bilingual weightings. It is equalized as the LOB is today.
  • The Local Enhancement Budget (LEB) is limited to 5% of the district’s total foundation aid. No election is required. It is equalized as the LOB is today.
  • The Local Activities Budget (LAB) is limited to 4% of the district’s enrollment multiplied by the BASE aid. The LAB must be approved by the voters and expended only for non-instructional purposes. It is equalized as capital outlay is today.
  • Capital outlay state aid is reenacted using the same formula.
  • Bond and interest state aid remains the same except that districts with fewer than 260 students would need State Board approval in order to be eligible fore state aid for bonds issued to construct new school facilities.
  • Virtual school aid would remain the same as the current formula.
  • The corporate tuition tax credit program would be change such that eligible students would include those enrolled in a district that receives high-density at-risk weighting. Nonpublic schools receiving students would have to be accredited by the State Board and have a post-secondary effective rate that exceeds the trend line for all school districts as determined by the State Board or have a composite ACT score that exceeds the statewide average.

Wow. That’s a lot to digest! And it is all based on a briefing because the bill has yet to be printed. We expect to see the full bill some time tomorrow and then spend some quality time plowing through all 100 pages.

We’ll keep you posted as the discussion goes on. Tomorrow should be more committee discussion of the above. Hearings on the bill will be Thursday, Friday, and Monday, if needed.

 

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