Archive for Friday, January 23, 2004

Sebelius to present tax increase, school plan as package

January 23, 2004


— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday said she would combine her proposed tax increase with her proposed Education First initiative in a single piece of legislation for consideration by the Legislature.

"It makes it clear that you can't have all these programs unless you have some revenue to fund them," Sebelius said.

Sebelius has proposed increases in the state sales, income and property taxes to fund a $304 million increase for public schools.

The additional taxes would go toward a $250-per-pupil increase in base state aid over three years; an increase in the share of school-finance funds for at-risk and bilingual students; and more funding for early-childhood education.

Sebelius said her proposals would be put together into legislation in the next several days and probably would be heard first in the Senate committees.

A district judge has declared the Kansas school-finance system unconstitutional by shortchanging students, especially minorities. Shawnee County Judge Terry Bullock has ordered lawmakers to fix the system by July 1.

School funding is likely to be one of the most contentious issues during the 2004 session.

Sebelius said the Legislature could divide the issues of funding and school improvements when votes were taken, but her attempt was to "tie the program side with the money side."

Under the Sebelius tax increase proposal, a 5 percent surcharge would be added to personal income taxes; the state sales tax would increase from 5.3 cents per dollar to 5.7 cents per dollar between July 1 and July 1, 2006; and the statewide property tax levy for schools would increase by one mill in 2005 and another mill in 2007.

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