Archive for Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Brownback’s school funding plan will allow for more tax leeway

December 7, 2011


— Gov. Sam Brownback’s point man on school finance said Wednesday that the governor’s proposal to overhaul school funding will not force local districts to raise taxes but will give them greater ability to do so.

“If you can operate under what you have right now, it will not necessitate it,” Brownback’s Policy Director Landon Fulmer said when asked if the proposal would push more tax increases onto local districts.

But Fulmer told the Legislative Educational Planning Committee that the proposal would allow counties and local districts more leeway in raising property and sales taxes for their schools.

He said there is “a strong philosophical belief” in the Brownback administration to give locals unlimited control in raising funds for public schools.

As the committee questioned various proposals under Brownback’s plan, Committee Chair Jean Kurtis Schodorf, R-Wichita, said legislators needed facts about how the proposal would affect each school district. “The devil’s in the dollars,” she said.

Fulmer said he should have that information next week when he makes his second presentation to the State Board of Education.

Brownback has made overhauling the school finance system a major priority, saying the current formula is under constant litigation. But some have raised concerns, saying that allowing more local taxing authority will increase inequities between rich and poor school districts and actually will prompt more litigation.

Fulmer also said that Brownback’s proposal would include a “hold harmless” provision, meaning that no school district would get less money in the proposed school finance formula than under the current one.

But under questioning from committee members, Fulmer said some school districts would get less money if the number of students dropped.

“Your saying hold harmless light,” said Sen. Ruth Teichman, R-Stafford.

Brownback has made record cuts to base state aid to schools, which currently stands at $3,780 per pupil, the lowest level since 2000.

Committee members approved a motion to recommend no further cuts from the $3,780 level, which several said would be Brownback’s recommendation for the next school year. But Brownback’s office said his recommendation on base state aid per pupil is still being finalized.


somebodynew 6 years, 4 months ago

".....but will give them greater ability to do so."

Nice way to spin what amounts to "raise local taxes if you want anything - the State isn't going to finance a good education system unless you are rich enough to pay for it yourself".

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

It's the only way to get the rich moderates in Johnson County to shut up about the lousy job Brownie's doing with this state. JoCo has the money to finance decent schools, and they know the value of education. Rural Kansas does not. Sooner or later the poor conservatives will also figure it out, but it may take the total destruction of public education to get them there.

thebigspoon 6 years, 4 months ago

I hope you meant that rural Kansas does not have the ability to finance education at higher levels, not that they do not "know the value of education." Semantics, I know, but oh, so important when conversing with this administration.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

That's the way I intended it, but you will find more radical conservatives that think pubic education sytems are teaching our kids to be homosexual athiest socialists. If he threw them a bone with vouchers for homeschoolers - and he will, because there are plenty of virtual charter schools, then he'd keep a good chunk of rural Kansas voters happy while he destroyed their school system.

KSManimal 6 years, 4 months ago

“If you can operate under what you have right now, it will not necessitate it,”

In other words, if you're OK with funding that falls over a billion dollars short of what the legislature's own costs studies show is necessary; then you won't need to raise local taxes.

Hey brownie, tired of being sued? Try upholding the constitution - you know, like you swore to do when you took office. Or show us where in the KS constitution it says that funding public schools is a local responsibility.... We're waiting......


Paul R Getto 6 years, 4 months ago

“The devil’s in the dollars,” === The understatement of the year so far. Funding the formula would help; shifting taxes to local units of government without equalization will just open up another door for litigation.

thebigspoon 6 years, 4 months ago

Exactly! Unfortunately, Ms. Schodorf's comment does not go far enough. She is concerned about dollars to her local district (Wichita) and overlooks the total state beyond her view. Your comment is so true, but Brownback doesn't seem to have any interest in how the courts will rule, anyway.

average 6 years, 4 months ago

Somewhat clever, from a political POV. This really puts the screw hard on small rural districts. But, they'd vote GOP even if the Republicans started burning small towns to the ground. It benefits the Johnson County districts the most since they can improve their schools substantially with a small additional mill levy, without the cost of bringing every other student in the state up (or competing with Aiden and Hunter for jobs/scholarships). And it's the Johnson County GOP votes that are a little squishy on Brownback. And who donate big bucks to campaigns.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 4 months ago

Unused ones in Salina could be had, I suspect.

mloburgio 6 years, 4 months ago

This tea party nut from salina has an extra pair! Secret Service Pays Visit to Salina Man Monday A 65-year-old Salina man had 4 handguns confiscated from him Monday, after he had announced via social media and e-mail, he planned to travel to Osawatomie Tuesday and arrest President Barack Obama while he spoke at the high school.

The US Security Service was just here, because KANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL DEREK SCHMIDT called them about my attempt to ARREST Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., tomorrow at the Osawatomie High School. So KS Attorney General is no friend of the Tea Party Movement, and will not prosecute Obama for not being qualified to be President of the United States!! PLUS he ignored his responsibility of the STATE’s RIGHTS of Kansas!!

walkthehawk 6 years, 4 months ago

the problem is, raising taxes doesn't necessarily mean raising money, at least not in the amounts necessary for a functioning school district. Lawrence and JoCo will in all likelihood be just fine, but this will cripple cities and districts like KCK, which has a visionary superintendent and the highest test scores in more than twenty years, but virtually no tax base to draw from. I realize that the governor, and many republicans, don't give a damn about KCK and similar districts, but that is short-sighted--the state's interests are not well-served, over the long term, by failing to educate its poor.

walkthehawk 6 years, 4 months ago

I get the joke, but the sad (or scary, depending on how you look at it) truth is, we will pay now to educate these children, or we will pay later to house them in our prisons. The desperately poor aren't tea partiers.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 4 months ago

The problem you describe, walkthehawk, is very real. But throwing money at the problem now won't help. Until parents get involved in a cooperative effort with schools, the problem will continue. I'm opposed to throwing money at any problem, hoping some will stick. Except education. I'm willing to give that one area the benefit of the doubt. But it is with great doubt that money alone will succeed. It's going to be 99% on the parents, both parents, hopefully in a stable household. Until that happens, I think the rest is all a waste of money.

tomatogrower 6 years, 4 months ago

And I think a lot of poor students who received mentoring and guidance from school, and who saw another way to behave, and found a place to feel valued might disagree with you. Especially those who went on to be successful. I think those kids are worth lots of money, and there are probably more of those, except they don't make the "if it bleeds, it leads" news.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

Actually, throwing money in the right direction will help. If we put money into preschools, full day kindergartens, and early intervention services, we'd eliminate a lot of the problems later on.

Not to dismiss the importance of a stable family that wants you to succeed in school, because that's hugely important. It's just not something you can legislate, "marry me out of poverty" be damned.

woodscolt 6 years, 4 months ago

Brownback should just run for mayor of kck, if he isn't willing to come up with policies that benefit the entire state. He confuses a mayor or a state congressman or state senator with the Governors office.

ljwhirled 6 years, 4 months ago

Doh! You said "long term". He isn't thinking long term, he is thinking about the next election.

woodscolt 6 years, 4 months ago

You could almost say brownback blowsalot. Step right up, get your magic elixar here. Another brownback snake oil that will favor the Brownback cronies and penalize those who are taking the brunt of financing his ideologies. This would create a catastrophic hit on the overall quality of education. Doing it the Brownback way.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 4 months ago

Strong philosophical beliefs are no way to run a business and no way to run a government.

Particularly not when they run counter to the Kansas Constitution.

question4u 6 years, 4 months ago

"He said there is “a strong philosophical belief” in the Brownback administration to give locals unlimited control in raising funds for public schools."

No question. There is a strong philosophical belief that those who have should prosper and those who do not should know their place. Unequal access to education is a cornerstone of the Brownback administration's platform.

Brownback obviously doesn't have much respect for most Kansans, but it will be interesting to see whether they are really as dumb as he thinks they are. He evidently believes that they are not smart enough to recognize that making massive cuts to education and then saying you're welcome to keep things as they are or choose on your own to raise taxes is a blatant manipulation and obfuscation.

Brownback thinks that Kansans are stupid, and his educational policies are clearly designed to make them so.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

He's always believed that economics don't matter to Kansans. He'll continue to pound away with social issues and hope nobody notices that he's carving away our upward mobility to give tax breaks to his rich friends.

texburgh 6 years, 4 months ago

Regarding Fulmer's remarks on "more flexibility..." When questioned by Sen. Marci Francisco how this plan gets more money "to the classroom" (as claimed by Fulmer) as opposed to the current plan, Fulmer told her that the state will tell districts how they can spend their state money. THEN he said districts would have more "flexibility." I guess that means no flexibility with state money (they will tell you what you can do with it) and flexibility with your locally raised money (which is exactly what is true today). In other words, less flexibility for school districts to meet their identified needs.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

It's a push for vouchers. The state will dictate that the money travels with the child. Charters will spring up out of nowhere to snatch that state moolah, making the districts even poorer, and then the local schools will collapse without huge tax raises, which they hope will then trigger more community backlash and lead to the election of more narrow minded conservative tea partiers. That's how that game works.

aryastark1984 6 years, 4 months ago

Currently, we are legally able to increase the mill levy to raise an infinite amount of money for Capital Outlay (CO) for new buildings, or at least as much as the taxpayers will bear. However, we are limited in the amount of the mill levy that can go to Local option budget (LOB-capped at 31%)-teachers/principals/custodians etc . That is why consolidation of elementary schools to save operating costs made at least a little sense.

If I understand this plan, they will lift the cap on the LOB, so we would have the ability to put as much money into the classrooms as the taxpayers will bear.

So, now we should ask the question, what is better for elementary students a new building or hiring more teachers and smaller class sizes? In these economic times, I would suggest that people are unlikely to go for both.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

What's actually better is adequately funding schools at the state level, but that seems to be something Brownback cannot comprehend.

texburgh 6 years, 4 months ago

But the Governor also proposes skimming the now uncapped local option budget from property wealthy areas and sending some to property poor areas. So you will vote to raise your taxes under the impression that it goes to your schools when in reality, in places like Lawrence, not all of it will. All schools would be better served if the legislature would stop granting massive Koch-demanded business tax cuts and actually funded the current school finance formula.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

Actually, allowing local areas to raise as much money as they like for education isn't a bad idea.

As long as the state provides enough funding that even poor areas get an adequate educational system.

Why limit what local areas can raise?

ljwhirled 6 years, 4 months ago

Inequality. Jefferson firmly believed that the first duty of government is to protect the rights of the governed.

Among those rights is equal protection under the law.

By instituting a system where rich communities have well funded public schools with a surplus of resources and poor communities have schools that are barely scraping by, the state government is discriminating against poor communities.

If the wealthy want their kids to go to schools that are better than public schools, they have the means to pay for it. It is called "private school".

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

I said an adequate education for all must be provided.

That doesn't mean that should be the limit, or that all areas have to be the same.

"Equal protection" really doesn't seem to apply here, in my view.

And, what of those communities that can't afford private school, but could pay a bit more for their public schools? Also, if the parents that care about education take their kids out of public schools (which is already happening quite a lot), then that hastens the decline of public education.

Finally, of course, that system means that those parents are paying for public schools which they don't use, and in addition for private schools.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

The richest public schools in this country outperform the richest schools in the rest of the world. The problem with our education system is not that we're not good at teaching. It's that we're not good at teaching everyone to that level.

There are many reasons for that discrepancy, and it's not all due to the funding level of the school itself, but a lot of it is. The conservatives want you to believe that funding doesn't matter, but that's a lie. It's not the only factor, but it's definitely a factor.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago


I never said that wasn't true.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

So by allowing the richest counties to have the best schools and the poorest counties to have the worst schools, you essentially codify a permanent gap between the classes. If the schools are "adequately" funded, there shouldn't be a huge clamor to enhance them. All students should have the chance to succeed.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

Adequate doesn't mean exceptional.

The state could provide an adequate education for all, and those who want to spend more of their own resources to improve their schools could do so.

Why limit public education to "adequate"?

By the way, if those with more money just take their kids out of public schools (which happens a lot), that furthers the decline of public education.

Wouldn't it be better for them to keep their kids in public schools, and improve them?

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

Yes. Why limit public education to adequate? When you don't fund them all equally, that's exactly what you do. The kids in Cupcake Land get all the great schools, while the ones next door in Wyandotte county get the bare minimum funding. Born in Prairie Village? Congratulations, best schools for you! Born in KCK? Aw, shucks. You get what Brownback deems "adequate."

It actually doesn't further the decline of public schools that much when rich parents send their kids to private schools. They still pay property and income taxes. If we got a voucher system, it would make a huge difference, but it would be their loss, since charters statistically do much worse for upper income brackets than public schools do.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

Not necessarily. If the state funds the system at an adequate level, then all schools will be adequately funded, including those in less affluent areas.

The state doesn't have an obligation to provide outstanding education, equivalent to the best private schools, does it? It has an obligation to provide basic education at the level we decide as a nation.

It should provide that to all children regardless of their geographical location and financial status - it should fund all schools at the same level in order to provide that.

On top of that, if parents in a well off area want to add some more money to their schools and improve them, I say good for them.

It absolutely hastens the decline when well off parents who care about education remove their kids from public schools - it makes teachers jobs more stressful and less satisfying, lowers morale, etc.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

Tell you a secret. Even with absolutely level funding, those rich kids are still going to do better. There's nothing we can do to make them the same. They still have parents who can get them private French lessons and connections to get them into Harvard. They're not competing on a level playing field with kids who barely see their mom between the two minimum wage jobs she works to make rent. We can't do much with education funding to make that problem better. However, there are things we can do to make them worse, and allowing local districts unlimited spending power is one of those things. Arguing that the rich kids will go to private school if they don't get to plate their rooftop with gold doesn't change that. Better should always be the goal with our education system.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

ljwhirled is the one who said if they wanted better than public education offered, they should put their kids in private schools.

I just said that when a lot of parents do that, it contributes to the decline of public schools, which has already happened quite a bit.

And, in between the very wealthy you mention and the very poor are a number of folks in the middle, who may not be able to afford private schools, but want their public schools to be better.

Better is the goal when local areas raise money for their schools.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

Yes, it is the goal, and I don't fault local communities for wanting to personally improve their schools. The problem is that it only entrenches the wealth gap by insuring that poor students can only attend poor schools. Honestly, I think they ought to just nationalize the whole system and be done with it.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

It doesn't do that at all, unless the money they're raising locally would otherwise have gone to other school districts, which is not the case.

I like the idea of nationalizing the system, but we'd have to do it carefully.

My idea would be that certain standards are created nationally, and that funding is made available from the federal government equally to all of the states on a per capita student basis.

Then, kids in all states would have the same, and decent funding for their schools.

Also, though, we should make sure that the standards are being met academically in a consistent manner.

But, even if we did that, I wouldn't have a problem with local areas wanting to improve on their local schools by raising money to do so.

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

Yes, it is the case that the money they were raising locally would otherwise have gone to other districts, because if they didn't have that local money to raise, they'd pressure their reps to raise the base aid for everyone.

Orwell 6 years, 4 months ago

"…allowing local areas to raise as much money as they like for education isn't a bad idea.

"As long as the state provides enough funding that even poor areas get an adequate educational system."

Ok in concept, but that's like saying dropping a match into your gas tank is fine, as long as your car uses non-flammable gasoline. Governor Blowsalot is determined NOT to fund poorer areas adequately, because if he did his buddies Dave and Charlie might not get as many extra millions.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

Just because he puts those two things together doesn't mean we have to follow suit.

We should be able to analyze the ideas separately, and conclude that requiring the state to fund the system adequately and fairly is a good idea, and that allowing local areas to add to that is also a good idea.

Orwell 6 years, 4 months ago

True, but O'l Sam wants us talking about only one of those ideas.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

It's a good thing that he doesn't control what we talk about then, isn't it?

Paul R Getto 6 years, 4 months ago

jafs: "Why limit what local areas can raise?" === Good point and you have just summarized much of the past 40 years worth of legal challenges and legislative issues concerning the school finance situation and the Kansas Constitution, Article 6.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 4 months ago

Why you ask? Because you end up with a 2 and 3 tier education system. Sort of like we tend to now. You carp about the 47% not paying federal taxes, but you don't want them to have a equal education. Forget the mistakes or choices their parents may have made, it's about the children and their future. Look at the schools of Blue Valley and tell me there is equality of opportunity elsewhere in the state.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

I said that an adequate education must be provided to all areas.

But, I don't see why we have to limit children to that - if some areas can afford to provide a better education, that's fine with me, as long as an adequate one is provided to all.

I've never "carped" about the 47%, and have actually corrected people on that numerous times.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 4 months ago

Actually, I think the words are 'suitable funding.' The 'equal' bit comes from the concept that access to a good education should not be related to your zipcode.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 4 months ago

walkthehawk (anonymous) replies… I get the joke, but the sad (or scary, depending on how you look at it) truth is, we will pay now to educate these children, or we will pay later to house them in our prisons. The desperately poor aren't tea partiers. ====== Good point. Channeling Horace, are ye? The 'inventor' of the concept that the poor deserved an education, he was:
"Horace Mann : Jails and prisons are the complement of schools; so many less as you have of the latter, so many more must you have of the former. "

WilburM 6 years, 4 months ago

Good discussion here. Rural districts get screwed, but I'm not sure that even JoCo (and certainly not Lawrence) are all that crazy about continually raising taxes. And oh by the way, that pesky constitution is sure to get in the way. BB is governor of ALL the state, and he should start acting like it.

Martin Shupert 6 years, 4 months ago

The people of Kansas who continue to vote against their own interests year after year deserve exactly what they get. Local taxes skyrocket? Basically, the middle class's taxes will skyrocket. The top 1% will see another loophole or another tax cut. I have no hope that anyone in this state will wake up until he completely over reaches beyond the pale as Scott Walker did in Wisconsin. (Now, for you Brownback hacks, I am not in high school so you cannot try to get me in trouble for expressing my views.)

kochmoney 6 years, 4 months ago

I don't deserve what they got, but I get to suffer the consequences just the same.

George Lippencott 6 years, 4 months ago

somebodynew (anonymous) says…

".....but will give them greater ability to do so."

Nice way to spin what amounts to "raise local taxes if you want anything -

Moderate Responds

And the rest of the state. If we get out of balance the courts will slap us down. Virginia has a system like this and if you raise your own taxes the state contribution declines so that inequities across the total system do not become unacceptably large.

JackMcKee 6 years, 4 months ago

This is all about Sam's dream of eliminating the income tax. Screw the poor and middle class. Basically everyone but about the richest couple thousand Kansans. You realize you're just a serf in their kingdom.

verity 6 years, 4 months ago

How can local communities raise taxes? Property and sales tax of course. And what kind of taxes are these? Regressive of course. Is this about getting rid of the income tax? Of course. And dumbing down our public education and making way for vouchers---which, if I understand correctly, will not give a whole lot of help to either the lower or middle classes who want to send their kids to private schools.

Higher property and sales taxes will hurt people on a low or fixed income the most---particularly the retired.

Can someone tell me who this will benefit besides the wealthier parts of the state?

And has already been mentioned---we will all pay for this in the long run. A good education is the key to a successful democracy. I agree that just throwing money at something doesn't solve problems, but let's figure out a ways to cut waste and improve public education, not just defund it.

Even though I have no children, I benefit from living in a society where a good education is available to all.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

Why do you think property taxes are regressive?

Those who own more expensive homes pay more property tax - isn't that the opposite of regressive?

JackMcKee 6 years, 4 months ago

a poor person likely pays a higher percentage of disposable income for rent/prop taxes. Thus regressive.

verity 6 years, 4 months ago

Didn't see your post before I posted. You put it much more succinctly.

verity 6 years, 4 months ago

Higher income people will also spend more so they will pay more sales tax, so you can say that sales tax is not regressive either. But lower income people will be spending a higher percentage of their available income on necessities just as they will, for the most part, be spending a higher percentage of their income on housing (whether by owning or as part of their rent). A person with an expensive house can replace it with a less expensive house. I would be hard put to find any housing for less than I am paying now, unless perhaps I moved to some sort of boarding house, which in the long run would probably not be beneficial to my finances, but in the short run people might be forced to do. Higher property taxes will hurt lower income people much more than they will hurt those with a higher income.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 4 months ago

In tax theory classes, I believe they call this "the last dollar earned." The very poor spend everything to survive, so their last dollar, whether spent on tax or a bag of pasta, is much more critical than the last dollar spent by one blessed with a higher income.

blindrabbit 6 years, 4 months ago

Just intercepted a tweet from someone called Dubya from Crawford, Texas addressed to Gov. Brownback, message said "You're doin a fine job Brownie". Seems like I heard this once before

Carol Bowen 6 years, 4 months ago

None of governor's tax reforms have hit the state legislature yet. Most of the criticism has been from state democrats. Will state Republicans toe the party line like they do in D.C.?

William Weissbeck 6 years, 4 months ago

It is practically a gospel, scientific, absolute truth that when school funding tends away from general tax revenues to local sales and property taxes that the system becomes inequitable. It's not like this hasn't been tried in some form or another over the last 100 years in every state. The data is there - the GOP just wants to ignore it. The other inevitable push if not higher property or sales taxes is then local option county income taxes. In the end the affluent shelter themselves from the effects of taxes by where they choose to live and how they structure their wealth. The rest of us are then pitted against each other.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.