Tell your rep to pass a clean k-12 budget bill that fully funds education for all students- including special education students- and does not include additional policies and gimmicks.

House Sub for SB 387, the dreaded mega-school funding bill that adds several pieces of policy to the House K-12 budget. Policy like the following: Elimination of the SPED funding task force, Implementation of a controversial at-risk accountability plan, and Additional changes to the open enrollment law. 

One of the more egregious pieces is the rewrite of the SPED formula. The bill’s supporters will argue that they’ve increased special ed funding to a higher level than the governor recommended. The funding is tied to the rewrite of the formula. Part of the rewrite would require local districts to use LOB money to fund special education. In some parts of the state, this could lead to an increase in property taxes. This accounting gimmick sidesteps the maintenance of effort stipulation of IDEA and could put Kansas out of compliance with federal law. 

We’re in week 12 of the 2024 session of the Kansas Legislature. KNEA has testified on upwards of 30 pieces of legislation. The testimony has covered a wide range of topics, including election rights, anti-transgender issues, tax policy, gun policy, Medicaid expansion, special education funding, AEDs, school mental health programs, literacy programs, separation of church and state, vouchers, KPERS reform, working after retirement, teacher licensing, enrollment, and other issues.

Notable Issues 

  • Vouchers

SB 509, a voucher bill against which KNEA’s Lauren Tice Miller submitted testimony, has passed out of the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation and now sits “below the line” in the Senate. Below the line means that it isn’t scheduled for debate, but it could be scheduled at any time. Bills below the line are not required to be scheduled for debate and final action, and many never make it “above the line.”

SB 509 is a voucher bill that provides refundable tax credits for private school tuition. We stand ready to send alerts should we need your assistance in contacting legislators to oppose the bill.  


Still stalled. Last week, the Senate Committee on Education considered SB 479, a bill that would move teachers from KPERS Tier 3 to KPERS Tier 2. We testified neutral to the bill because it left several educators out. This bill was advanced by the Senate Committee on Education with several Republican votes. Unfortunately, it ran into a buzzsaw when the President of the Senate “double referred” it to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance. This is a procedural motion that makes it really hard to pass out of yet two more committees. We reiterate that this is very disappointing. 

  • Budget

The Senate led the budget during this session, but the House is closely behind. The Senate Education Committee stripped several million in enhancements that Governor Kelly made in her budget recommendation to the legislature in January. The vast majority of these deletions were targeted to fully fund special education. Another big chunk of the deletions was slated to fund a grant that would increase childcare access to Kansans. 

Key Senators involved in the budget process have stated that most, if not all, of that funding would be added back in during the wrap-up session in April, but only after the legislature can change the special ed funding formula. This concerns us because we don’t think the formula is broken (does this sound familiar?), and there is no guarantee that the legislature will add the funding back in.

The budget bill (SB 514) passed the Senate 24-15. A lot of work is left to do before it heads to the Governor’s desk.

The House, which has a Committee on K-12 Education Budget and a regular Committee on Education, follows a different process. The House Committee on K-12 Budget adds policy to the appropriations bill and works it separately. This has been a cause for contention among legislators on both sides of the fence for some time. Many legislators would prefer that policy and appropriations be handled separately. Nevertheless, this is the process, and the K-12 Budget Committee has created the dreaded “mega-education bill.” 

The House budget bill is SB 387, including several pieces of bad policy. The House committee also stripped Governor Kelly’s enhancements on special education. However, the House added Special education appropriations back in and tied them to the passage of a new special education formula that many, if not all, education advocates oppose.

Unfortunately, this is business as usual for the committee, and it makes the process combative.  

  • Transgender Care

The House Committee on Health and Human Services sent a horrendous bill to the floor of the House for debate on Tuesday of last week. House Sub for SB 233, a bill that originally tried to stifle gender-affirming care by creating hefty civil causes of action and the threat of license revocation of physicians, passed the Senate last session and had stalled in the House up until the first week of this month. 

At that time, the House did what is called a “gut and go” procedure, removing the original contents of SB 233 and replacing them with the contents of HB 2791. HB 2791 is an even more draconian bill that could lead to severe repercussions. We submitted testimony in opposition to HB 2791 during the hearing it had on February 29.

On Thursday, March 14, the Senate made a motion to non-concur with the House amendment to the bill, and the bill now sits in a conference committee. Further action is unclear, but several entities that we work closely with are taking the lead on this legislation and monitoring it closely as well. We will also follow up with key conversations to educate legislators on the seriousness of this bill.

Testimony Last week (March 18-22)

  • HB 2494 – Substitute for HB 2494 by Committee on Education – Establishing policy requirements for cardiac emergency response plans for school districts and providing a grant program for implementing such policy. SUPPORTIVE – Oral 
  • HB 2556 – Expanding medical assistance eligibility and enacting the cutting healthcare costs for all Kansans act. SUPPORTIVE – Written Only
  • HB 2669 – Codifying the mental health intervention team program administered by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services in state statute. SUPPORTIVE Written Only 
  • HB 2839 – Establishing a blueprint for literacy to create a literacy advisory committee, appoint a director of literacy education, require the state board of regents and the state board of education to collaborate on a literacy micro-credential and professional development, authorize the state board of regents to recommend diagnostic and formative literacy assessments, authorize university presidents and deans of education oversight over postsecondary literacy courses and require a plan to establish centers of excellence in reading. SUPPORTIVE – Oral 
  • SB 355 – Expanding medical assistance eligibility and enacting the cutting healthcare costs for all Kansans act. SUPPORTIVE – Written Only
  • SCR 1611 – Proposing to amend section 1 of article 11 of the constitution of the state of Kansas to limit property tax valuation increases for real property. OPPOSED – Written Only