Archive for Friday, February 11, 2011

Statehouse Live: Feds say state could lose special education funds

February 11, 2011, 11:19 a.m. Updated February 11, 2011, 5:08 p.m.


— Kansas could lose from $21 million to $26 million a year from the federal government if the state doesn’t increase its share of special education funding, officials said Friday.

Legislative Democratic leaders sent a letter to Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, asking him to push for restoration of those state funds to avoid the federal penalty.

“This is real serious business,” said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka. “We are going to sound the alarm for Gov. Brownback to show some leadership on this.”

Later Friday, Brownback’s spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag issued a statement saying that the special education funding levels were determined by the previous Legislature. “If the legislative leaders who crafted the (current fiscal year) budget now believe it is inadequate, the governor is willing to work with them on an appropriate response.”

A proposed budget bill that will be debated by the Senate on Monday would provide the required special education funds. Senate leaders sounded adamant about making the appropriation.

“If we don’t take action, we would lose in perpetuity that federal match,” said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.

But House Republicans earlier this week refused to put those funds in the House plan, brushing aside attempts by Democrats.

A memo from State Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis says that the U.S. Department of Education has notified the state that if Kansas fails to meet required “maintenance of effort” of state funding for special education, the state will lose an equal share of federal funding.

“Based on the latest calculations, it will require 21 (million) to 26 million additional dollars to meet the Maintenance of Effort requirements,” Dennis said.

A loss of that much in federal funds would represent one-fourth of the federal funding the state currently receives for special education. The state has already lost $2.2 million in federal special education funding from last year, Dennis said.

Democrats and Senate Republican leaders said the state funds to keep Kansas in compliance could be taken from the state’s ending balance. They also noted that January tax revenues were above projections.

Failure to restore the school funding “would be penny-wise and pound-foolish,” Hensley and House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence said in the letter to Brownback.

Davis and Hensley said schools have already absorbed $241 million in state cuts over the past two years, and any loss of federal special-education funds would just make matters worse.


pace 7 years, 2 months ago

Brownback doesn't care about special education. He has shown he doesn't care about public education. The only thing he has pushed forward is to make taxpayer money available to private schools. Brownback will not be moved by loss of funds to special education. That string is not one the Koch brotherhood will feel like twitching, so no knee jerk from Brownback. The Kansas tax payers will have to sue and they will have to sue before the wing nuts change the constitution.

Brent Garner 7 years, 2 months ago

I find it interesting that in so many ways the federal government purports to direct state spending through the promise of granting or threat of removing federal matiching funds. Special education is not the only place this happens. So, in a direct manner, the federal government is at least influencing if not outright controlling significant portions of state budgets all across the nation. Is this what the Founders intended or is this a violation of the 10th Amendment?

MyName 7 years, 2 months ago

The Feds aren't controlling what state's do with their tax money, their just saying that if you want Federal revenue, you'll have to do X. It may be true that it's in the State's best interest to accept that money, but that doesn't mean they are forced into doing it.

The really funny thing is that you never hear any Constitutional complaints about the National Guard, which receives far more Federal revenue and which the Federal Government can actually go in and take over in certain instances. I guess because Special Education isn't as obvious a benefit to society as "better trained soldiers with better guns".

question4u 7 years, 2 months ago

Federal funds come from federal taxpayers. Is your position is that taxpayers from other states should fund Kansas schools even if Kansans won't? Do you believe that your federal tax dollars should go to Missouri, Florida or New York even if those state governments were to decide that they didn't want to contribute an equal amount to their own educational systems? Wow, there's nothing like Kansas logic.

question4u 7 years, 2 months ago

You mean let those kids who need special education go. You didn't say where, but we can guess. No doubt it's what Jesus would do.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 2 months ago

Exactly. These special ed kids don't look like me, a white Kansas Republican. If they're really so "special," why don't they get a job?

notanota 7 years, 2 months ago

If they got an adequate public education, they might just be able to get a job. But that's ok, we'd rather pay for group homes and permanent care, right? Outta sight, outta mind.

meggers 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't think the so-called compassionate conservatives at the statehouse want to pay for those things, either.

notanota 7 years, 2 months ago

True, but they'll still have to pay. They'll pay for court costs and prisons when low functioning individuals with inadequate suports are left on their own, lower state wages and tax revenue when a family member must stay home to provide care, etc.

notanota 7 years, 2 months ago

Just because the schools aren't getting matching funds doesn't mean they're not still obligated by law to pay for the services.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 2 months ago

The Federal Government is perfectly within their rights to do this. The state can choose to not comply with Federal legislation but the downside is, if we choose to do this, why should they fund us for services we aren't giving? "Feeding at the trough" goes both ways. I pointed out on another thread that this also goes for Federal healthcare legislation. If Kansas balks at it, there is every chance the Feds will cut off funds for Medicaid and Healthwave. The truth is this state could end up losing hundreds of millions of dollars, multiple services will be cut and with those services gone who do you think is going to bring jobs here? The Koch Brothers?

Richard Payton 7 years, 2 months ago

The Fed's funds come from somewhere over the rainbow and beyond?

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 2 months ago

If Kansas rejects the federal funding, that is not the same as a cut in federal spending. It just means that money gets spent in another state.

thebigspoon 7 years, 2 months ago

It's going to be telling to hear what educators do about this pending fund cut. The tough thing to do is to fight tooth and nail against the cut, making enemies in the Statehouse and causing future educational requests to be much more difficult to obtain. I fear, however, that the easy route will be followed: let the regime dictate our educational quality so as not to endanger the income of those who direct the schools. To hell with the needy students, to hell with the teachers who will lose their jobs, to hell with everybody who disagrees with this move.

Again, I say, our state is in a precarious position with this cadre of ultra-self-serving religious businesspeople in charge. Danger is no longer around the corner, but right at our doorstep.

itwasthedukes 7 years, 2 months ago

Wow maybe districts will have to spend the loads of money many have in the SPED funds, due to budget rules.

thebigspoon 7 years, 2 months ago

OK, so schools redirect SPED funds to general education. Do the math: the maximum each district may divert to special ed is 10% of theeir funding. If they do that, then special ed loses out and the schools' budgets are still behind, what with pending state cuts in funding. Now we have a really special deal: not enough dollars for special needs kids, not enough dollars for mainstream kids, and we're still laying off/non-renewing more teachers and putting more kids into fewer buildings with fewer teachers.

What you suggest will only axagerate what is happening in Kansas right now. There are not enough funds to maintain a quality educational oppportunity for the kids now, and diverting funds will not appreciably help the mainstream, and will be devastating to the special needs students.

Tragically, as is mentioned below, the upshot is a lessening of the probability that outside businesses will choose Kansas as a relocation/building site due to life quality issues, further eroding the chances of an economic recovery and enhancement for the state.

notanota 7 years, 2 months ago

And then if we're still getting any federal funds at all in the schools, the SpED parents will sue the dickens out of the schools and get those funds back, because they're still regulated by Section 504 and FAPE, so the government will have to cut back ALL federal funds to legally be able to neglect handicapped kids. The lose-lose cycle continues!

notanota 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure they do, and I'm sure they really are facing a funding crunch, and I'm sure most parents either don't realize their rights or don't want to go through a lawsuit. It only takes a few lawsuits to start costing the school district though, and then that's money that gets taken away from everyone to fight a lawsuit that shouldn't have happened if the funding had been set up properly all along.

equalaccessprivacy 7 years, 2 months ago

Against abortion--but look what great care he takes care of kids once they get here! Bahhahaw!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

Brownback brings with him from the Washington D.C. beltway extreme reckless economics. These neoconservatives simply are not the economic giants of our time.

Neoconservatives are following the neoconservative guideline that wrecks state economics basically written by Grover Norquist and the Koch Brothers.

Most of the financial backing for TABOR initiatives has come from antitax fanatics like Grover Norquist, White House insider and intellectual author of the Bush tax cuts, or brothers Charles and David Koch

TABOR is a mutation of the Tax and Expenditure Limits (TELs) instituted in 28 states around the country over the past quarter-century, beginning with Proposition 4 in California in 1979. TABOR is like a conventional TEL on steroids: it has been pumped up with stricter spending limits and tighter restrictions on legislative action. Whereas TELs traditionally tied state government spending to faster-growing personal income, TABOR allows government budgets to grow only as fast as the population plus the inflation rate.

Furthermore, TABOR applies the population-plus-inflation adjustment to the prior year's actual expenditures, not to allowable or budgeted expenditures. So, as the CBPP notes, "when state budgets grow slowly or fall, as in the recent fiscal crisis, actual spending or revenues are likely to be lower than the level permitted by the formula. If this lower level becomes the new base … then the level of public services is permanently ratcheted down." Colorado's TABOR, the only one in effect so far, was also designed to be hard to reverse: only a ballot measure approved by the state's voters can do so.

Most of the financial backing for TABOR initiatives has come from antitax fanatics like Grover Norquist, White House insider and intellectual author of the Bush tax cuts, or brothers Charles and David Koch of oil pipeline conglomerate Koch Industries, heirs to their father's company and fortune. As co-owners of their $40 billion corporation, the Kochs have used their staggering resources to start an ultraconservative think tank designed to pump out ideological broadsides disguised as policy studies.

The Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) touts TABOR and other pieces of conservative legislation as overwhelming success stories, usually with validating data from like-minded (and like-funded) organizations. "It's no accident that TABOR's major champions … share many of the same free-market philosophies and goals. They also share many of the same funders--large corporate interests and right-wing private foundations--and in some cases, they share board members as well," concludes a 2005 report by the Bureau of National Affairs, a nonpartisan business news publisher.


thebigspoon 7 years, 2 months ago

And look how well TABOR has worked for California..................

Richard Payton 7 years, 2 months ago

In other news Obama suggest ending Freddie & Fannie Mac. Which makes it more difficult to own a home if his most drastic plan gets approved.

guesswho 7 years, 2 months ago

Not many companies with high-paying jobs are going to want to be in a state with subpar public education and no arts.....


ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 2 months ago

Even if we secede and then put Jesus on our own new dollar bill?

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 2 months ago

Great, your vision is for Kansas to be Alabama.

notanota 7 years, 2 months ago

That may be true, but China will still do it better and cheaper than we can here, and there's always other developing countries that will exploit their workers for less, so even a race to the bottom scenario will fail to either pull us out of recession or attract long term corporate investment.

notanota 7 years, 2 months ago

Actually, it does. This? Drop in the bucket compared to what gets spent in Iraq/Afghanistan. In fact, the entire matching funds we're talking about - $26 million? That's how much we spend on one tenth of one single day in Iraq.

Carol Bowen 7 years, 2 months ago

Looks like the Kansas legislature slipped this by us last year.

notanota 7 years, 2 months ago

Didn't they do something like get rid of the funds and use stimulus funding instead? And then get told that was exactly the wrong way to handle it.

Carol Bowen 7 years, 2 months ago

I vaguely remember something like that. Like I said, it slipped by us.

Mike Ford 7 years, 2 months ago

dummies do what dumb voters allow them to do while intelligent people are surrounded by idiots who want to sink the titanic for their mythical rapture. please send these people to their own private desert.

Alceste 7 years, 2 months ago

The loss of this money can only be a good thing in the long run: It will teach Kansas political hicks just what is what; relegate the state to an even more backwater, hillbilly, redneck than it already is and either compel CHANGE or move out of state. Bring it on! Hooray for the idiots!

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