Archive for Thursday, January 13, 2011

Statehouse Live: Base state aid to Kansas schools drops under Brownback budget plan

State Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, comments on budget proposal by Gov. Sam Brownback, including measure that would cut funding to public schools.

January 13, 2011, 9:05 a.m. Updated January 13, 2011, 5:20 p.m.


— Gov. Sam Brownback, who promised to protect public schools during his campaign for office, has proposed a budget that would cut school funding this year and next year.

“The economic stagnation has put state revenue into a decline for a fourth year in a row and required me to make difficult decisions in order to maintain the most essential programs of the state at acceptable levels of funding,” said Brownback, a Republican who was sworn into office this week.

Democrats blasted Brownback’s plan. In a joint statement Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, and House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said, “The budget proposal he presented today will force school boards all across Kansas to close schools, lay off teachers and increase class sizes.”

Brownback’s policy director Landon Fulmer delivered the proposed spending plan to legislators. “The fact of the matter is, we just don’t have the money,” Fulmer told the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Fulmer introduced legislation to carry out the cuts.

The Legislature will now work on the budget recommendations.

The state faces an estimated $550 million revenue shortfall, primarily because of expiring federal stimulus funds, much of which have been used to prop up school funding.

But with those federal dollars disappearing next year, Brownback has decided not to replace them with state funds.

He has proposed cutting base state aid from $4,012 per student to $3,780 per student, a drop of $232 per student or 5.8 percent. If approved by the Legislature, base state aid would be at its lowest level since 1999-2000.

“That’s going to translate into a lot of teachers losing their jobs,” said Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood.

Although base state aid will decrease, total state funding for school districts will increase $129 million, Brownback’s administration said. But that figure includes funding to cover obligations for retirement, special education and debt payments on capital projects.

School finance experts say the base state aid figure is the one that shows true spending in the classroom because that is the money that goes to teachers’ salaries.

“There’s no doubt in my mind if these proposed reductions actually occur, our public education system in Kansas will be of lesser quality,” Vratil said.

In the Lawrence school district, officials said the system would have to cut from between $1.2 million and $1.9 million from the budget in the current school year, and an additional $2.5 million next year. That is on top of cuts of $7 million over the last two years.

“The cuts are deep,” Superintendent Rick Doll said. He said they will result in fewer teachers and larger classroom sizes.

Brownback’s budget would also cut the Early Childhood Head Start Program by $3.5 million and grants to community mental health centers by $10 million. It would also cut the state’s Public Broadcasting grant of $1.6 million.

The budget includes a $5 million appropriation to the Kansas University Medical Center for cancer research, but requires a $5 million match from KU.

The budget also proposes eliminating 2,000 unfilled positions and several agency eliminations and reorganizations.

Some of the budget recommendations include:

• Eliminating state funding of the Kansas Arts Commission.

• Consolidating the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC) into the Kansas Department of Commerce.

• Merging the Kansas Health Policy Authority into the Division of Health of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

• Abolishing the Kansas Parole Board and transferring those duties to the Department of Corrections.

• Merging the Animal Health Department, State Conservation Commission and Agriculture Marketing Program into the Department of Agriculture.

• Moving the Travel and Tourism Program out of the Department of Commerce and into the Department of Wildlife and Parks.

• Abolishing Kansas Inc., an economic development agency.

• Shutting down the state hospital for developmentally disabled Kansans by 2014. The Kansas Neurological Institute is located in Topeka.


Dan Thalmann 7 years, 1 month ago

I love the travel and tourism move. That was needed a long time ago.

WilburM 7 years, 1 month ago

We were 50th before, will be 50th after. Deck chairs on Titanic. We need to get ourselves an ocean, or some mountains.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

So base aid is cut, but district funding is increased - it's hard to figure the overall effect of that.

And, in higher ed, they've lost $100 million, and he's proposing a $10 million increase - so they've lost $90 million that is just gone.

Thinking_Out_Loud 7 years, 1 month ago

HM, you seem to be confusing local policy and funding decisions with state policy and funding decisions. Any 6th grader taking a Civics class should be able to help you out with that.

Cai 7 years, 1 month ago

@jafs Brownback didn't cause the 100 million in loss, and he recognizes that he can't just give all of it back at once when we're already in debt, and getting worse. Doesn't mean I necessarily like brownback better, but $10 million is better than nothing.

@Healthcare_moocher Hey! we got a library expansion too! :P

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm just following his comments on education closely because he promised to "protect" education and social service funding - we'll see what that means in more detail.

To my mind, that should mean restoring education funding to the level described by the legislature's studies, and required by the KS Supreme Court - I have a feeling that's not what he'll do, though.

In another article, he discusses not replacing the stimulus money, which has been used to prop up education funding.

kugrad 7 years, 1 month ago

It's actually more likely to get the feds INTO our schools. Underfunding schools will eventually lead to lower achievement, which will lead to cuts in Title 1 monies, which will lead to both federal interventions and even lower achievement, which will lead to more federal mandates as NCLB goals are not met.

Anyway, your comment reveals a complete ignorance regarding the intended purpose of the federal monies, the actual use of the monies, and the role of the federal government in local schools.

ksriver2010 7 years, 1 month ago

ARRA (stimulus) came with requirements that increase Fed oversight in Education - lots more data point tracking and gathering and reporting (yes Obama was for it). Those don't go away with the phase out of ARRA funds.

kugrad 7 years, 1 month ago

Basically nothing was added to the data already collected in Kansas. This isn't the same as "race to the top" funding.

ksriver2010 7 years, 1 month ago

You are incorrect. The ARRA calls for tracking teachers->students and having teachers linked to student achievement. That is something that is not in effect right now. Teachers are ballistic about it because it ties their performance with their student performance and will ding teachers at low performing schools.

JohnDa 7 years, 1 month ago

In a time (perhaps far, far away) your education was paid for as well.

CHKNLTL 7 years, 1 month ago

dem der yung'uns just need em sum readin ritin and rithmetic, no how. atta boy sam. nip it in the bud.

Why not address a large state cost issue like putting state prisoners in county jails and forcing the counties to pay for them? Seems like as much money goes into a jail, our kids would be better off attending prisons than schools. And ironically, they might even learn more. (just kidding)

Kontum1972 7 years, 1 month ago

Brownback's budget would also cut the Early Head Start Program by $3.5 million and grants to community mental health centers by $10 million.

perfect..and they wonder how these nut cases with weapons kill people....gee thx Gov.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Do you have a source for that?

I'm following the question of whether he fulfills his promises to protect education and social service funding - if that's true, he's breaking the social service one as well.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Thanks - I must have skimmed over that.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 1 month ago

The prison budget goes up. Doesn't that make up for the education and social services cuts?

Sounds like the kind of state I'd want to move my business to!

Hmm...goals for making it harder on illegal immigrants, cut education, increase prisons, cut social safety nets----

Why not change our state name to Karizona?

plainspeaking 7 years, 1 month ago

Brownback also plans to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission. It receives $700,000 in federal matching money - that Kansas will lose - and the Commission uses that money to help fund operations, programs and professional development for local arts agencies - like the Lawrence Arts Center. Many jobs are at stake here.

mickeydsrocketdog 7 years, 1 month ago

His plan will force a newly private state agency compete for the same funding as the organizations they serve - and those guys have been turning to the KAC because that money has dried up in this economy.... without public support, many of those theaters, art centers, after school programs, dance programs, music lessons will be cut (job losses), or will close (more job losses), or be so expensive that only the rich folks can use them. Wow. Way to go.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Not to worry. David Koch is a big funder of the arts. He won't let the arts suffer-- at least, not the ones he likes and whose galas he loves to attend. (hopefully, you have exactly the same tastes that he has.)

William Weissbeck 7 years, 1 month ago

For once I'd like to see a governor say the one thing I won't cut is care for the mentally ill. They are the most vulnerable and the least protected, and the first to have their funding cut. Having worked from the legal side with the state's mental health providers, there is no way that it is over funded or their employees over paid. And just like cuts to education, if you cut mental health care, you just end up paying it into the criminal justice system. Do you seriously think that the teachers teaching your kids are over paid? How many of them do you know that live is 2,800 sq ft homes with 3-car garages? We don't have a public school system because it makes money. We have one so that we don't end up spending even more money trying to warehouse and police an uneducated adult population.

gudpoynt 7 years, 1 month ago



kugrad 7 years, 1 month ago

Brownback lists 4 top priorities. One is to raise reading achievement as measured on the 4th grade state tests. To do so, he cuts education funding. The state was wrong to lower their funding levels to offset the federal TARP funds. Those funds were meant to protect jobs and supplement CURRENT aid levels. The federal govt. actually used Kansas as an example of what NOT to do last year when advising other states. So, we had what should have been a one-time offset, now he wants to make that permanent. That, my friends, is a funding cut.

Cutting early childhood funds is just plain stupid as we know beyond any doubt that every dollar spent on early childhood education is returned tenfold in later savings on everything from special education to prison.

The real motivation of this state's leaders is simply to prop up their political careers by aligning themselves with the tax-cutting movement. Unfortunately, we can't provide the services Kansans need and continue to cut taxes at the same time. Costs rise for the public sector just as they do for everyone else. I don't like taxes any more than the next person, but taxes were cut too far in the last 10 years. Now basic govt. services can't be adequately funded.

They act as though there is no alternative, as if they could never raise taxes. Sometimes that is inevitable. Eventually, taxes just have to go up. It is an unavoidable inconvenient truth.

kugrad 7 years, 1 month ago

I didn't mean TARP, my mistake. The funds were intended as a stimulus to save jobs in the education field which, after all, is employment.

slowplay 7 years, 1 month ago

I pretty much agree with everything you stated except "Cutting early childhood funds is just plain stupid as we know beyond any doubt that every dollar spent on early childhood education is returned tenfold in later savings on everything from special education to prison." .... There has never been a comprehensive analysis of the benefits of "Head Start" programs. In many cases these have become nothing more than glorified day cares centers. I would almost go as far as to eliminate this program entirely rather than cut any monies from the K-12 programs.

kugrad 7 years, 1 month ago

My understanding, which could be wrong, is that the funds being cut do not all go toward Head Start, which is a specific program. That being said, and with extensive work experience and as one who is certified in early childhood, I believe it is very clear that early childhood intervention works. If nothing else, the basic literacy skills and structure prepare them for school. Children who qualify for a Head Start program in particular are far less likely to learn basic literacy skills in the home than other children. I'm not an expert on Head Start research, but I do not believe there is any research showing that they are not beneficial and there is certainly research showing that such programs are valuable, whether it meets your definition of comprehensive or not.

William Weissbeck 7 years, 1 month ago

This is where the flat taxers and the flat earthers fall off the edge. The argument is that as incomes rise, disposable income as a percentage of total income increases. If you tax that at a higher rate you obtain more revenue without hindering the incentive of wage earners to earn a higher income.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Well, it looks like Brownback's version of "protecting" education and social service funding is to cut them.

Any supporters care to weigh in on this?

Is it ok that he promised that and is immediately breaking that promise? Isn't that a sign of poor character? Would you have voted for him if he said he was going to cut that funding?

volunteer 7 years, 1 month ago

A decrease in funding is really an increase. Whacking with a scythe is protecting.

I had hoped Brownback would be forthright. If cuts are required, just say so dang it. Don't ignore the removal of Uncle Sam's stimulus money and play the Orwellian doublespeak game.

And I thought Brownback indicated throughout November and December that the social agenda would have to wait until the budget mess was fixed. How come he referenced abortion (did not use that word, of course) in his State of the State speech?

One can understand if some are calling shennanigans.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

Is anyone really surprised that Brownback lied?

goodgirl2011 7 years, 1 month ago

Ask the Bank of Karzai it seems to have a a few trillion of U.S. taxpayer 's money. Hey, this is peanuts by comparison what Mickey Mouse and his band of mountain farmers get monthly. Ehh but who cares ...

grimpeur 7 years, 1 month ago

"One is to keep reading achievement on the 4th grade level."


pace 7 years, 1 month ago

He will close the state hospital for developmentally disabled, transferring the patients to community group homes. Problem is , they have already transferred all the kids they could to community groups homes. Those left, between a hundred and two hundred, are such special needs they would either drain the resources of the community homes or would die without special care. It transfers the costs to counties, often the cost will be higher compared to utilizing the programs built up over decades at KNI. tragic and mean.

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes, but those people he callously cuts off from services don't complain very loudly or donate much to his reelection campaign.

thebigspoon 7 years, 1 month ago

OK, all you who voted for the new administration, it's time to hear from you on the basic question of the day: are you proud that you voted into office a man who lied to you? I know there will be gazillions of angry, though thoughtful (:0), replies to this question, but the fact remains that Brownback lied about education funding, and, now, who knows what else. It sickens me that this state has as a leader one who is smart enough (just) that he read the anger and helplessness of the constituency and used them to gain office by deception in his campaign rhetoric. I do hope that all of you will watch what happens to our state in the coming years, and come up with your "left-leaning" excuses for the eventual downgrading of the desireability of the State of Kansas as a place to live. There will be consequences far beyond the immediate, dealing with employment, educational quality, property values, quality of life, insurance rates, ad nauseum because this guy used your discontent to get his new platform. Good luck, everybody. I just hope you'll be grateful when the "radical leftists" are ready and willing to help you through the bitter, unimaginably difficult times we, as a state, are going to have to weather the future.

I have said it before and will say it for all time: there is little correlation between the party in "control" and the quality of life in our country, The issues are nearly always ones of growth and economics that need to be addressed, by individuals and by political parties, in a non- or bi-partisan way without regard to the well-being of a particular segment of society becoming more rich or more powerful or in any other way dominant over the others. Whether it be big business, big religion, or any other ultra-special interest group, all have to recognize and work within the framework of a better country for ALL its citizens before problems can be truly addressed and managed, if not eliminated.

Mr. Brownback has not told the truth to you in his campaigning, and will not tell you the truth about his agenda. We will find out what he means when he does it, and not until. It's too bad that we all have to pay the price for our discontent with the present by deeper ciscontent in the future.

pace 7 years, 1 month ago

i don't think Brownback lied, he probably cares about education, health, people, but he promised to cut everything without mercy. He seemed a shoe in, He had big, and I mean big money behind him, he was the right party and he said he would govern without mercy. I think he will. He made promises to Koch and I think he will keep those too. I have no idea why the population of Kansas loved him as a senator, nor do I understand why they wanted him to gut the state's assets and infrastructure. he will sell the state building to "corporations" and then rent them back. His tenure will raid the state infrastructure and turn it to investment capital for the very wealthiest. But I don't think he lied to us. He promised a mean and heartless reign.His cuts will hurt children, elderly, ill, art, education, environment, it probably won't hurt the current generation of Koch industry. It isn't the end of the world, it is simply a period of decline for Kansas.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

"It isn't the end of the world, but we can see it from here."


jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

He did, in fact, lie, by saying he would "protect" education and social service funding, and then immediately proposing to cut them.

frank mcguinness 7 years, 1 month ago

Tom Holland is probably smiling right now.

Kansas we will reap what we sow.

fly_on_wall 7 years, 1 month ago

NO I don't think he is, He ran because he wanted to protect education and increase business growth. In other words serve his state not make a political move towards being president. I would just like to add that although Brownback just took office he was a senator. None of these problems are new and he was so out of touch with Kansas he voted against education increases at the US senate. He has not represented our best interest as much a political ideology. Unfortunately people have gotten in the bad habit of looking for the R or the D on their ballots the quality of the candidate character is over looked. Tell them what they want to hear and do what you wanted all along Brownback.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

How does eliminating jobs = economic growth?

This is neoconservative beltway nonsense.

laughingatallofu 7 years, 1 month ago

Not a whole lot of defenders of Sammy here today. Fact of the matter is, taxes have been cut too much by the previous Republican-controlled legislatures for purely political purposes, and now even basic government services are being axed. ((&_)()(&*& Republiturds.

TopJayhawk 7 years, 1 month ago

Good, I get tired of being held hostage by the education system. "But it's for the good of the kids." Is their lying byline. It should say: "It's for the good of the teachers and the administrators."
Administrators, teachers and the NEA are all a bunch of entittled lying whining money wasters.

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes, I've known several teachers, and "overpaid and underworked" are exactly how I'd describe them... on "opposite day."

Those laughable tropes aside, Finland pays their teachers well, they're nearly all union members, and they actually have fewer hours of instruction in Finland than they do in the US, yet they kick our butts on performance.

We have a fantastic public education system, if you're white or rich. No lie. It's not that we're not producing a "competitive product," it's that we're not doing it for everyone, and simply slapping some commissions on that isn't going to fix the problem.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

So it's apparently ok with you that Brownback lied?

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

TJH: Other than being anti-leadership, can you provide some specific examples of how money is 'wasted?' District budgets are about 80% salaries and benefits, with at least 1/2 going to teachers. Administrators are a relatively small part of the budget. Is leadership irrelevant in public education? Are there other large enterprises, the military for example, that waste money on leaders? I'm just curious as to how you would correct the problem other than eliminating leaders and teachers. With the large budget cuts coming for schools, leaders will no doubt be cut from the budget, but the only substantial savings will come from "entittled (sic) lying whining money wasters" who are teaching the kids. If we are being held 'hostage' by educators, I suspect the hostage-takers will be fewer in number in the coming years, class sizes will increase and programs will be eliminated. If this is good for Kochkansas, we will soon find out; frankly, I think not.

ksriver2010 7 years, 1 month ago

kansas - and especially Wichita - has one of the highest school admin overhead imaginable. And they repeat over and over again in the article that it will cause teacher layoffs and larger class sizes.

thebigspoon 7 years, 1 month ago

CITATIONS AND PROOF, PLEASE. Otherwise, keep quiet. You know how to spell and read and add and have a job that means something because of the people who taught you. That gives you the right to say what you want, but not to make up crap that has no relativity to anything but your own stupid sprejucices.

usnsnp 7 years, 1 month ago

Not going to call people names but here are some suggestions where you could cut money before going after education and mental health. Governor reduce his wages to 0. All executive branch heads cut their pay by 50%. Legislature cut their pay and perdeum to 0. No this would not cover the budget short fall but it would demonistrate a williness to be part of the solution. Everyone has to remember that the most important thing the State has to do is educate our children. If we do not have well educated children we will not get companies with good paying jobs to come to the state.

Carol Braden 7 years, 1 month ago

Thank you Senator Kelly for your articulate explanation of what the Governor's budget proposal will mean to schools.

It was very confusing to hear in his State of the State Address that he has proposed to increase funding to schools and then see in his budget what appeared to be a decrease in funding.

A 5.8% cut to schools will be devastating!

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

"slowplay (anonymous) replies… I pretty much agree with everything you stated except "Cutting early childhood funds is just plain stupid as we know beyond any doubt that every dollar spent on early childhood education is returned tenfold in later savings on everything from special education to prison." === The X10 may be a bit high as an expectation, but recent meta analyses of early childhood efforts generally show a return to society which suggests it is worth the investment. For example:

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