Archive for Friday, January 14, 2011

Statehouse Live: Democrats criticize Brownback’s proposed cuts to schools

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

January 14, 2011, 12:31 p.m. Updated January 14, 2011, 2:24 p.m.


Base state aid

Here is the base state aid per pupil since the 1992-93 school year, according to the Kansas Department of Education.

1992-93: $3,600

1993-94: $3,600

1994-95: $3,600

1995-96: $3,626

1996-97: $3,648

1997-98: $3,670

1998-99: $3,720

1999-00: $3,770

2000-01: $3,820

2001-02: $3,870

2002-03: $3,863

2003-04: $3,863

2004-05: $3,863

2005-06: $4,257

2006-07: $4,316

2007-08: $4,374

2008-09: $4,400

2009-10: $4,012

2010-11: $4,012

2011-12: $3,937 (Brownback proposal)

2012-13: $3,780 (Brownback proposal)

— Democratic leaders in the Legislature on Friday criticized Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to cut base state aid per pupil back to levels last seen in the 1990s.

They said the Legislature should try to repeal some tax exemptions and loopholes to find additional funds for schools.

“To me, funding schools is the absolute most important thing that we can do,” House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence said.

The proposed cuts will result in teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and local property tax increases, educators and legislators have said.

“Teachers deeply understand that students and their learning will suffer when teachers, counselors, librarians and support professionals lose their jobs,” said Blake West, president of the Kansas National Education Association.

“Every community in our state depends upon its local schools,” West said. “Cutting state aid per pupil not only cuts jobs, it cuts into the heart of the community.”

But Republicans rose to defend Brownback, a Republican who introduced his first state budget proposal on Thursday.

House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the governor was showing leadership in tough economic times.

The recent recession will cause state government to reset, and result in several more years of cuts, O’Neal said.

“We are just going to have to bite the bullet,” he said.

Brownback’s plan would reduce base state aid per pupil from $4,012 to $3,780 over the rest of the current school year and the next school year. That would be the lowest base-state-aid-per-student level since the 1999-2000 school year.

Brownback said his proposals were necessary to balance the budget without a tax increase and to help bridge an estimated $550 million revenue shortfall.

And his staff said total school funding would actually increase $129 million under his budget, but that figure includes funds to cover obligations for retirement, special education and debt payments on capital projects. School finance experts say the base state aid per pupil figure shows true spending on students in the classroom.

The proposed reduction in base state aid results from Brownback’s decision not to replace expiring federal stimulus funding that had helped prop up the education budget over the past two years.

Davis and Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said the cut would be actually deeper because failing to replace the federal funds carries into a third year, bringing the total reduction in base state aid per pupil to $362 — a 9 percent cut that would set the level at $3,650 per student, which would be the lowest since the 1996-97 school year.

But O’Neal said there are areas in school finance that the state pays for that it probably shouldn’t.

“I will submit that the education that our children should be mandated to have and the state pay for is something less than the sum total of all curriculum that is being offered right now,” he said.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 5 months ago

Why does this surprise anyone? Lyingrepublican is all one word. This guy is running for President and has no plans for Kansas. He got elected because this state is flummoxed with the lyingrrepublican line of bull and not near enough people were alert enough to know that a bad senator would not be any better as governer. So take it and weep rueful consitiuients, you asked for this dolt and you got him.

thebigspoon 7 years, 5 months ago

The ones not thinking are those like you who look reality in the eye and pretend they see something different. You will, in the end, be one of the Kansans who reaps the benefits of undereducated kids and loss of economic power for the state. I hope you and yours continue to blame the Democrats as YOUR boy continues lying to you.

thebigspoon 7 years, 5 months ago

This is what happens when one party wins an election and instantly finds out they were lied to: they immediately go on the offensive. You may (and probably will) go on pretending that the education of our kids will not suffer. You can pretend the sky is green and the earth is flat, but the facts will out. I feel for al of us, even you with your head firmly planted in the sand.

thebigspoon 7 years, 5 months ago

Not criticizing people individually, just groups of them who refuse to see the writing on the wall. Saint Sam lied, proposed a budget that cuts all sorts of things that he doesn't like, upheld his promises to his Wichita friends, and made it all sound as if he'd done us a favor. I don't give a damn if he's a R or a D or an L, he lied and we have to deal with it.

On another note, I read with interest most all of your comments, and just when I'm sure of your leanings, I'm bushwacked. Keeps everyone sharp. Thx.

campbellinsurance 7 years, 5 months ago

Where does that put us nationally in terms of base per pupil spending? What types of things are the states with less per pupil spending doing that we aren't? Maybe we could implement those here?

notanota 7 years, 5 months ago

On the lower end. We ranked 24th in 2007-2008 according to census data, and this would certainly knock us down several notches. Those that spend less generally have lower costs of living. I suppose we could further lower our cost of living by driving out any sort of high paying business opportunities and turning the state into a vast "cultural wasteland." Oh wait, we're already doing that by defunding education, social services, and the arts. Well played, Brownback.

Jean1183 7 years, 5 months ago

"not to replace expiring federal stimulus funding that had helped prop up the education budget over the past two years"

Who made the cuts that then needed federal stimulus funds to "prop up" the budget?

The way our education system is funded is totally ridiculous! We can build new buildings, sports fields, etc. but have to cut teachers, aides, and other staff? Don't get me wrong. Some staff need to be cut....there are often "too many Chiefs and not enough Indians".

Paul R Getto 7 years, 5 months ago

It's hard to generalize, since states figure budgets differently and fixed costs vary so much from coast-to-coast. To cite midwestern states, Kansas spends a bit less than our neighbors and gets the same or better results on similar tests. On any measure that is agreed as a state-to-state comparison of academic achievement, Kansas ranks in the top ten of the 50 states. Our teachers are in the bottom third on pay nationally, so we could just be getting a pretty good deal. There are some states who don't spend as much as Kansas, Mississippi comes to mind, but I'm not sure we want to emulate their system.

GUMnNUTS 7 years, 5 months ago

Has anyone done a study to see what the school districts could save if we eliminate all team sports? Those busses, coaching stipend, cost of uniforms, electricity for the lights, cost of heating a gym, would seem to save a decent amount of money.

thebigspoon 7 years, 5 months ago

Just for information's sake, you might consider the fact that, according to the U. S. Commerce Department's figures, the $3600 per pupil base rate would need to be $5436 in order to simply maintain the then current level of spending. Taking away the 3 or 4% of funding for extra-curricular activities would result in next to nothing in real spendable dollars, still leaving a vast gap in school funding. To look at it in another way, if it cost you $3600 to live in 1992, it would cost you $5436 today to maintain the same standard of living you scraped by on in 1992. Not realistic? OK, multiply everything by 10 ($36,000 is now $54,360) and maybe you can get a clue as to what's happening. Would you stand still for anyone's suggestion that you live today on 66.225% of what you earned in 1992? Of course not, but that's exactly what Good Neighbor Sam is proposing for our educational system. Sorry, but this is not acceptable.

coderob 7 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, ljworld needs a lesson in discounting. It's a little irresponsible of them to post figures like that without telling us whether or not inflation was included.

It's akin to saying that if the state gets 10 pounds and 10 euros that it will have 20 dollars. Don't mix units, people!

LogicMan 7 years, 5 months ago

Why complain, it's inevitable in this economy. Instead, focus your energies on growing the economy so that tax collections go up. Everyone wants to restore funding to education and social services. You can be either part of the problem, or part of the solution; it's your choice.

thebigspoon 7 years, 5 months ago

OK, let's focus on growing business, as you suggested. Why don't you begin, today, a comprehensive search for corporations who want to locate/relocate to Kansas, where their employees' kids can learn all about intelligent design, from fewer teachers in larger classes with higher teacher to pupil ratios. Then, you can look for people who want to go into business to work in those businesses who want to work for lower wages because they aren't educationally qualified to take the higher paying positions. Then you can tell us all why the economy of the state is not growing, why existing business dollars are being exported to other states, and why you and I and every other Kansas not named Koch is worse off in terms of spendable income than we were under the dastardly previous administration. I dare you. And do it all without mentioning "Republican" or "Democrat".

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

You don't have a problem with the fact that he promised to protect that funding, and is immediately suggesting to cut it instead?

thebigspoon 7 years, 5 months ago

I have a tremendous problem with that. There is no place for outright lying in political campaigns, even though wwe have grown to accept such as normal. The sad fact, though, jafs, is that the election is over and we have to deal with the consequences. I have to focus on how our kids are going to compete in the real world, how our state is going to suffer from this administration, and how each and every one of us, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or whatever else is represented in this forum, is going to cope with the current admnistration's forging an economic plan that benefits only the Koch and their ilk and Saint Sam's run for the Presidency. Yes, I have a really big problem with all these things.

notanota 7 years, 5 months ago

I've got an idea. Let's further shrink the economy by cutting jobs in education and social services. That'll solve the problem!

Paul R Getto 7 years, 5 months ago

GUMnNUTS (anonymous) says… Has anyone done a study to see what the school districts could save if we eliminate all team sports? Those busses, coaching stipend, cost of uniforms, electricity for the lights, cost of heating a gym, would seem to save a decent amount of money. ==== Again, hard to quantify in exact terms, but must districts spend 2-3% on the total activity program. If we eliminated all of them, students would be free during the 'golden hours' of 3-6 pm, which would most likely increase other costs (police, drug use from the parents' medicine chest, drinking, drinking and driving, more police work. Like most public policy issues, we pay one way or another for some sort of service. Activities and athletics also provide good leadership and team-building training for many students and a connection with the community. If schools must save lots of money, the only real long-term savings are in closing buildings, increasing class size and dumping teachers off the payroll. Good question, however.

jackson5 7 years, 5 months ago

In wages and transportation alone, USD497 spends nearly $1Million on sports. This does not include utilities, maintenence, capital outlays (new facilities) or uniforms. This information was presented to the school board on 11/22/11.

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 5 months ago

"This information was presented to the school board on 11/22/11"

No one can tell me we don't have a forward-looking school board.

George Lippencott 7 years, 5 months ago

Told you this was coming. Now we will be allowed to raise our local property taxes to replace state and federal funds - if we want. Time to get the legislature to pass a Prop 13 to limit the local propensity to rape residential property owners.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago


But then what happens to education and social service funding?

notanota 7 years, 5 months ago

Yes, this is the inevitable move, and then Brownback can act like a hero for taking those "brave" state cuts and shifting the burden to local property taxes. Meanwhile, we all lose the federal matching funds by shifting the costs and rural districts get shafted because they have no tax base. Way to go, Brownback.

question4u 7 years, 5 months ago

O'Neal said. "We are just going to have to bite the bullet." The metaphor seems apt: the state will perform an amputation on itself. Even if that's necessary to stave off death, it's not generally the kind of thing that people celebrate (as O'Neal has in his enthusiastic comments so far). And what does he mean by "we"? It would be interesting to hear what part of the pain he expects to experience as a result of the cuts to education. Could there be a bigger hypocrite?

Paul R Getto 7 years, 5 months ago

"But then what happens to education and social service funding?" === Good question, and that's about 90% of the state general fund budget. I suspect the drill is to fund 'basics' at the state level, then tell locals they can raise all the taxes they want for music, art, band, forensics, sports, industrial arts, etc., etc,. ...........

true_patriot 7 years, 5 months ago

Apart from shooting ourselves in the foot in terms of our future, the worst thing about gutting education in Kansas is that the cuts are being made in order to fund corporate welfare initiatives, which I'm sure we'll hear more about in the very near future.

kujayhawk7476 7 years, 5 months ago

Hopefully the law suit filed by school districts against the state to uphold the judge's order regarding school funding levels will force the legislature to fund secondary education and Regent's institutions properly. Brownback showed absolutely no leadership with his budget and plans, he showed the standard politician's line. I'm a moderate republican and knew he would stand beside his right-wing whacko buddies.

dogsandcats 7 years, 5 months ago

Privatize education and if you can't afford to send your kid to school you can apply for a competitive scholarship or they can grow up to work a menial job which there will be lots of after Kobach sends all the illegals back to Mexico.

wastewatcher 7 years, 5 months ago

Naturally theULTRA LIBERALS like Davis, Hensley, and Kelly are screaming, we all know they want more taxes and more spending. They have had their day and you see where we are. in deep trouble and real changes are needed. Elections have meaning and consequences and Kansans have spoken loud and clear. The ULTRA LIBERALS and their candidate HOLLAND have been rejected, they have been rejected at all levels of government It is time for GOVERNOR BROWNBACK and his team to lead and fix this Sebelius mess.

livinginlawrence 7 years, 5 months ago

Do you even pay attention to what's going on? There are no ultra liberals in KS politics. You're paranoid.

thebigspoon 7 years, 5 months ago

And uninformed and thoughtless and all the other wonderful idiosyncracies of the person who probably does no thinking, only knee-jerking.

Mr_Missive 7 years, 5 months ago

There is no coorelation between money spent and how good our students perform. If there was a correlation, all students would be geniuses by now.

tomatogrower 7 years, 5 months ago

Then why do private schools cost so much? How many private schools spend more per pupil than public schools? And you can't just include tuition. You must include all the donations they get. And to compare the public schools, you can't include the special ed money that the public school receives, because private schools don't have to accept students with special needs, and private schools don't have to fill out the enormous amount of paperwork if they do have a special needs student. They don't have to hire all the para's to help the students. And how many private schools have been sued by parents of special needs students? And how many private schools need to hire a security officer to control unruly students? They just don't allow that student to come back.

WilburNether 7 years, 5 months ago

What a surprise.

The Kansas Democrat Party is bought and paid for by the Kansas teachers' union, which, in a blatant case of gross misrepresentation, calls itself the "Kansas National Education Association."

The K-12 industry is THE WORST in terms of having an entitlement mentality, and a congenital inability to distinguish between what is nice to have, and what is essential.

The K-12 industry could -- COULD -- educate kids just fine with 1/3 less money.

thebigspoon 7 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Scott Bonnet 7 years, 5 months ago

Can you support ONE of your statements with any form of proof? Doubt it.

pittstatebb 7 years, 5 months ago

Wilbur- what might surprise you is how many republicans are members of KNEA. Saying KNEA buys the democratic party is the same as saying Koch buys the republican party. It gets us nowhere. What we should point out is that Kansas is a local control state. All teacher contracts/benefit decisions (outside of KPERS) are made at the local level. Local KNEA chapters negotiate these contracts. Last year my districts local KNEA chapter asked its members how they wanted to negotiate (either get as much in salary increase as they could knowing we might lose jobs, or do whatever it took to keep jobs). The end results, our district took a pay decrease and kept all jobs except for those who retired or quit. You are right that K-12 could educate at 1/3 less, but school employees would make about 1/4 less money putting that starting teacher at about 22K. (PS with 2 kids that is below poverty level)

coderob 7 years, 5 months ago

Mr_Missive, correlation does not imply causation, but lack of correlation does not exclude causation either.

Most legislators that cite the lack of correlation between spending and achievement are referring to a study they did a number of years back looking at per pupil expenditures and student achievement on test scores. In some instances, inner city schools had even higher per pupil expenditures than their suburban counterparts but still performed poorly on tests.

The major flaw in this study is that inner city schools often have older buildings. You can increase spending substantially in these schools, and still see problems because all that extra money just goes to basic essentials like heating a poorly insulated building in the winter, or replacing the roof in the gymnasium.

notajayhawk 7 years, 5 months ago

Except there has been more than one study with the same results.

It's not how much is spent - it's HOW it's spent. What Kansas needs to do is do away with this sham of capital-vs-operating expenses. It all comes out of our pockets and goes to the schools. If it all came out of the same basket, maybe the school districts could find a way to make the budget work.

notajayhawk 7 years, 5 months ago

As usual, I just love it - everyone crying and whining 'But, but, if the state cuts funding, it will cost more in property taxes.' Everyone, as usual, talks a good game, saying they don't mind higher taxes to give more money to the schools - as long as it's not THEIR taxes.

wastewatcher 7 years, 5 months ago

LIVINGINLAWRENCE Maybe you are right, after the drubbing the ULTRA LIBERALS took in the elections, If I were one. I would not admit it either. I am only surprised it came to pass so soon.

gbulldog 7 years, 5 months ago

Let's give the USD's stickers, and see how they cope. That is what the USD's are doing to our kids while promoting "political correctness" and creating "dumb" uninformed voters to support the liberal wing of the Democratic party. We all know how successful Kansas USD's have been. Why did the Board of Regent change entrance requirents for Kansas colleges. The Kansas USD's are not producing quality graduates and dropout rates are increasing. USD's have made the decision to help the "politically corrent" students and ignore regular students. These student in many cases must fend for them selves. Not all students have the same ability. Some are smarter, some have a better work ethic, mature at diffent rates, and have different parent support.. If I would have had the financial resources, my children would have been sent to a private school.

There are too many school districsts, thus too much administration. (Aren't many Superintendents the highest paid person in many rural counties?) My parents and grandparents attended 0ne-room Kansas schools. Too graduate, they had to pass a comprehsive exam. Even if updated, I doubt that many college graduates could pass the exam. The Legislature needs to fund a study (ignoring what the education industry wants) to determine what is needed to educate our future workforce, then change our education system and adequately fund education for our future workforce. Unless we improve our workforce, our country's economic situation will continue to deteriate. Rember what JFK said:

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