Debt Hypocrisy

While Governor Brownback and his allies in the Kansas legislature are quick to blast the federal government for taking on debt, they are very quiet about their own policies that are putting future generations of Kansans on the debt hook to pay for a failed tax policy.

Technically, the state cannot deficit spend. The state budget must be balanced constitutionally. But to pay for a reckless tax policy that removes hundreds of thousands of Kansas businesses from income tax rolls entirely, they have robbed the state highway fund to the point where the fund had to issue millions of dollars in bonds in order to keep working.

They then passed legislation issuing millions in bonds to shore up KPERS.

And now that those bonds have been sold, the budget committee is recommending using KPERS money to balance the budget. Their recent action would stop state KPERS payments now with the intent to reimburse the money next year.

How confident are you that tax cuts that have bankrupted the state are suddenly going to turn around and bring in the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be needed to maintain current services, pay off the bonds, and reimburse KPERS for the pilfered funds?

We’ve been waiting for the Governor’s promised “shot of adrenaline to the heart of the Kansas economy” since 2012 and all we’ve seen is a continuing downward spiral in revenue collections, cuts to state services, and a stagnant economy.

Make no mistake about it. The Governor’s tax cuts have slowed revenue collections to a trickle, forcing the legislature to rob from other funds, forcing those funds to issue bonds (debt) to stay afloat. The budget may be balanced on paper but future generations are up to their eyeballs in bonded indebtedness. How is this different from federal deficit spending?

This bill will be debated on the House floor tomorrow. It is also ready in the Senate.

Contact your legislators! Tell them NO RAIDING KPERS! 

Expanded Tax Credit Bill Likely Up This Week in House

House Bill 2457, the radical expansion of the corporate tax credit bill approved by the House Education Committee could be up for a floor vote as early as Thursday.

This bill takes the current corporate tax credit that goes to corporations who recruit at-risk students from Title I Priority and Focus schools to go to private schools and makes the “scholarships” available to any child in any public school whose family income is less than $44,000. No longer would the student need to be at risk, no longer would the student have to come from a Title I school. And the tax credit would be available to individuals as well as corporations.

While there is a $10 million cap in place for now, if $9 million were to be spent, the allocation for the next year would automatically increase – no legislative action would be needed. The Department of Revenue has set the expenditure estimate at $8.5 million. They believe that making the credit available to individuals would dramatically increase participation.

Tax money used for these credits would be available to all private schools – accredited or non-accredited – as well as home schools. Millions of tax dollars going to schools that have no accountability, administer no assessments, and report nothing to the State Department of Education.

Call your Representative and tell him/her to vote NO on HB 2457 – tax dollars are for public schools. Click here for the House roster with links to emails and phones.

House Ed Committee Hears Bill Stripping Due Process from Community College/Tech College Instructors

The House, having stripped due process from K-12 teachers in 2014 and from state employees in 2015, has now turned its attention to Community College and Technical College instructors. HB 2531 strips post-secondary instructors of due process rights.

Three instructors from Johnson County Community College – Deb Williams, Vin Clark, and Melanie Harvey – and Kathy Mendenhall from Hutchinson Community College testified in opposition to the bill. Brian Koon of Kansas Families for Education also opposed the bill.

Testifying in favor were the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees, the Kansas Association for Technical Education, and Garden City Community College President Herbert Swender.

Swender took heat from Rep. Valdenia Winn (D-Kansas City), an instructor at Kansas City, Kansas Community College. Swender asserted that all 19 presidents were in favor of this bill. Winn pointed out that the President of her college was in the room and perhaps she’d ask. Swender was silent.

The committee took no action on the bill. It will likely be taken up later. We’ll be watching for committee action.

Gifted Education Bill Withdrawn

A bill introduced yesterday that would have removed gifted and talented students from the state’s special education statutes was withdrawn today by Rep. Sue Boldra (R-Hays). Committee Chairman Ron Highland (R-Wamego) announced that the bill was withdrawn and will not be heard this year.

Parent groups had immediately alerted their members to the bill who were sending emails to legislators.

Boldra had intended to put gifted and talented students in a separate funding stream but that part of the proposal was not in the bill.