Archive for Friday, November 20, 2009

Legislative education committee lobs pre-emptive strike against more budget cuts

November 20, 2009


— A state committee on Friday sought to put the brakes on further cuts to education.

The Legislative Education Planning Committee adopted a recommendation that the state not seek federal permission to cut public school and higher education funding below 2006 budgetary levels. After several rounds of cuts this year, both areas are close to that level of funding.

The move represents a pre-emptive strike in the coming budget battle when the legislative session starts in January.

Kansas has accepted hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds to shore up the budgets of public schools and universities.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act requires states that use those federal funds to keep education funding above 2006 levels.

States can seek a waiver to cut below the 2006 mark, but the LEPC voted to recommend that the funding to public schools and higher education not be cut below those levels, and that Gov. Mark Parkinson not seek a waiver of the federal rule.

But several committee members opposed the recommendation, saying if enacted it would reduce the Legislature’s ability to confront the current budget crisis. Parkinson has said he will cut the budget next week to solve an immediate $260 million revenue shortfall. Public school and higher education funding make up two-thirds of state spending.

“It just seems to put us in a box,” state Rep. Owen Donohoe, R-Shawnee, said of the proposal.

But proponents of the recommendation said education has already been cut too much and public school funding is a constitutionally mandated responsibility.

State Rep. Eber Phelps, D-Hays, said he hoped the recommendation would spur lawmakers to look for ways to increase revenues.

State Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said several rounds of budget cuts to schools have already hurt.

“Knowing the cuts are causing hardships now, I wouldn’t want to impose more hardships,” she said.

The LEPC adopted the recommendation, which was made by state Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, on a voice vote. The only ones voicing opposition to the recommendation were Donohoe, and state Reps. Denna Horst, R-Salina, and Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center.

State elected officials have reduced higher education funding this year by 12 percent, or $100 million. For public schools, base state aid has gone down from $4,433 per pupil to effectively $4,068 per pupil.

Because of previous budget cuts this year, higher education funding is less than 1 percent higher than the 2006 level, and public school funding is a little above 1 percent the 2006 level.


KU_cynic 8 years, 2 months ago

Psst . . . Legislative Education Planning Committee ...

There's no money!!!!!

boothillbilly 8 years, 2 months ago

Psst...KU_cynic- there's no alternative.

Education today costs more than it did in "the good old days" that never were. You want kids prepared to enter into the global and local economy, you've got to educate them and train them for the 21st century.

Furthermore, there is this fiction in America that you can get something and not pay for it (in taxes).

Kudos to the legislature for recognizing that education must be a priority. Now they've got to find a way to pay for it. (hint: tax vices)

avoice 8 years, 2 months ago

boothillbilly says: Furthermore, there is this fiction in America that you can get something and not pay for it (in taxes).

What about all the rich people who get educations for their children without paying for them (directly)? Taxes should pay for the educations of people who need assistance in paying. The rich folks we're trying so desperately to wrest taxes from should be shouldering the direct costs of their children's educations by paying tuition for k-12 just the same as for college. Establish tuition and have the families of school-aged children pay on a sliding scale from 100% down to 0% based on income.

Bob Burton 8 years, 2 months ago

boothillbilly & avoice,

Please reread KU_cynic's post again & then read it again!! There is no Money..

kcshankd 8 years, 2 months ago

"There is no money" b/c the legislature cut taxes when times were fat instead of building reserves. Hence, the calls for raising revenue - end poorly thought-out tax cuts to preserve school funding at 2006 (!) levels. What else hasn't gone up in price the past four years? Can you think of anything?

Perhaps we could levy a special tax on press releases from the Club for Growth and Chamber of Commerce? They got us into this mess.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 1 month ago

This is a manufactured crisis. The R's have done their job and done it well. Now it's time to decide if this approach should carry us into the future. If anti-tax candidates win the August primaries, get ready for hundreds of millions in cuts year after year after year. We will need a lottery to pick the winner who gets to turn off Kansas' lights as they cross the border.

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