Archive for Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brownback administration outlines school finance concepts

October 12, 2011


— Education officials on Wednesday expressed concerns that Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to overhaul the school finance system may put more of the financing burden on local districts.

During a meeting held by the Kansas Association of School Boards and United School Administrators of Kansas, Brownback’s policy director, Landon Fulmer, said the administration was looking at a plan to provide a base payment from the state to local school districts, a system of block grants for at-risk students and other needs of individual districts, and allowing local districts to increase taxes. There also may be some changes to the distribution of statewide property tax collected for schools, he said.

Mark Tallman, with the KASB, said, “One of our concerns is the impact this would have on equalization, and there is a concern of shifting funding responsibility back to the local level.”

But Tallman added that some of the concepts that Fulmer addressed were interesting and he noted that Fulmer said the proposals were not set in stone. Brownback is expected to make a recommendation for legislators to consider when the 2012 session starts in January.

Tallman added, “We need to have a clear understanding of what we are trying to correct. Why is this better?”

Schools have been hit with several rounds of state budget cuts since the recession. Earlier this year, Brownback signed a budget that cuts base state aid to schools by $232 per student.

Brownback has said he wants to reform the school finance formula because it has been tied up in litigation in recent years. But those legal challenges have sought to force the Legislature to increase funds for schools and distribute those funds more equitably.


verity 6 years, 8 months ago

". . . allowing local districts to increase taxes. There also may be some changes to the distribution of statewide property tax collected for schools, he said."

So we're just playing a game of lowering state income taxes and raising local and property taxes to make up for it. Wonder who that benefits.

chootspa 6 years, 8 months ago

Dont' forget the game of suing the state again unless they manage to ram through that constitutional amendment on state funding. I swear, he's going to end up being the most sued governor of all time.

tomatogrower 6 years, 8 months ago

It benefits Brownback. He can say he lowered taxes. Only a half lie. He's good at that.

Evan Ridenour 6 years, 8 months ago

Again, remember how Lawrence was blackmailed into paying for our SRS office even though SRS is a state responsibility? His administration is going to do the same thing with our schools. What is next?

IgotYourBack 6 years, 8 months ago

The SRS office closing and take up by locals is a first step tactic in putting the services into the hands of Brownback cronies. They are now squeezing your local budget over property taxes while the county struggles to meet obligations on toxic bonds they took up before the bail out. Lawrence and the other SRS locations will soon be FORCED to go to these Brownback cronies if the office is going to stay open. People need to get active against these funding schemes and the fake crisis. The money is there and the claim that it isn't is false. When the cronies get the contracts you will see how it appears again and flows away from Kansans.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

So, you're pleased that the governor tricked local entities into paying for a state responsibility, while simultaneously spending the same money elsewhere on new administrative positions.


jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

A rather unresponsive post, even for you.

verity 6 years, 8 months ago

It looks to me like lowering income taxes and raising property and local taxes are going to hit retirees on fixed incomes the hardest. If you've invested in Roth IRAs for your retirement, you don't have to pay income taxes on what you take out, but raised property and local taxes aren't avoidable.

It's too late for me to move, I've got too much invested in Kansas, but if I were younger, I'd certainly be looking to move elsewhere. Of course, when my house is confiscated for taxes, I'll be free to move.

Dan Eyler 6 years, 8 months ago

The closer we can get to local control the better. Communities should make decision about education and less control from Topeka the better. I use to not agree with this but I do now more than every before.

question4u 6 years, 8 months ago

Right, why should all children in Kansas receive the same education? That only promotes equal opportunity. Kansans don't want that. The smaller the circle that we can draw the better, since we only care about what affects us directly. Forget larger principles. It's only fair for those who come from wealthy districts to receive a better education than do those who come from small, rural communities. We're not all in this together.

This is Brownbackistan after all, and our state motto is: "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.." Matthew 25:29

Fossick 6 years, 8 months ago

Do all children in Kansas receive the same education now?

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

Probably not, but more local control can only lead to more inequality.

Fossick 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm more concerned with quality than equality.

Fossick 6 years, 8 months ago

Then how did he get elected? Is he so powerful that he secretly and proactively destroyed education so that he could get 63% of the vote in 2010?

Perhaps you can explain this fervent desire you seem to have to preserve an education system that produces election result you obviously hate.

kujayhawk7476 6 years, 8 months ago

When do you suppose the court will be hauling the gov, lt. gov and the entire legislature into court and hold them in contempt for not financing schools per the legal agreement the judge set forth a few years ago? Is there a local gym capable of acting as a jail while these worthless parties work things out and finance schools properly?

Hey, here's an idea, why don't local school districts collect fees, etc., from the children of illegal immigrants to help foot the bills? What a novel approach! I can't believe someone hasn't already thought of that.

esteshawk 6 years, 8 months ago

They do - through property taxes paid either through the mortgage or rent.

getreal 6 years, 8 months ago

Really, push school finance to the local level? Let's see we already have a county/city in Kansas that is so strapped they are debating who has enough to prosecute domestic violence cases.

This is an opportunity for Brownback to cut income taxes for his political donors while raising sales tax in local communities to 12% on grandma's grocery bill. This is an opportunity for Brownback to abate property taxes for his wealthy political donors while raising property taxes in some communities to price grandma right out of her home.

How exactly will these block grants be administered? What is to stop the manipulation by this administration to only give grants to those they owe a political favor?

The ONLY thing wrong with the current formula is that this Governor and his band of merry conservatives refuse to fund it!

conservative 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes all children are deserving of an education. But there is no requirement that if you choose to live in the middle of nowhere that the school has to be in your backyard. We have way too many districts in KS for the number of students and the small rural districts in the West have dug in their heels refusing to consolidate. With the ability of districts to raise taxes if it is truly important to the constituients in those districts they'll have the ability to keep their small districts open.

deec 6 years, 8 months ago

How dare the farmers who grow our food expect there to be a school within 20-40 miles of their children?

verity 6 years, 8 months ago

Exactly. But that doesn't fit the argument.

verity 6 years, 8 months ago

They should home school. I'm sure they have plenty of spare time and all the resources they need to do that.

Doug Fowler 6 years, 8 months ago

Actually, several of the districts "out west" have been the leaders in consolidation and sharing of services. More waste in the East with multiple districts in the same county and districts that refuse to cooperate on services.

rtwngr 6 years, 8 months ago

I have an idea. Why don't we use the money that the city/county would spend on preserving a nothing building, that means nothing to anybody, and funnel that into the schools. Or why don't we use the money that is going to be earmarked to prop up SRS in Lawrence toward our schools. I am sure this feel good community could find some way to trim its fat and finance our schools.

esteshawk 6 years, 8 months ago

A nothing building that means nothing to anybody? Ever heard of a "society?"

rtwngr 6 years, 8 months ago

This is the pervasive attitude in this community. Spend, spend, spend. Throw money at this and throw money at that. The past governors of this state spent us to the brink of insolvency. No it isn't popular to cut anywhere but surely the communities of this state can find a way to educate our children and cut expenses too.

vuduchyld 6 years, 8 months ago

SRS, DOL, kids in public schools Arts Commission, women's health, there's no money there for you But to hire an old crony or fix voter fraud (???) we'll pay We'll even strengthen marriage just as long as you're not gay!

Welcome to Brownbackistan!

IgotYourBack 6 years, 8 months ago

Property taxes are being avoided in the millions of dollars in Kansas through the issue of local industrial revenue bonds. Initially conceived as business incentives they rightly go out to businesses that otherwise would not be able to get a start up. However, many cases have become a tax shelter for highly profitable corporations who send our local money out of state to absentee corporate owners. The rationale for property tax exclusions requires putting an offsetting burden onto citizens because you have to make up the property taxes they do not pay. That is where the lie that we are out of money is revealed. Many of these property tax exclusions are given to banking investment groups for property management. These groups are at the core of receiving bail outs. Oversight, compliance and extension of property tax exclusions on these agreements is supposed to be carried out by county appraisers. Folks you are going to need to stand up and speak out to protect your property rights, your schools, your streets and your children's future.

verity 6 years, 8 months ago

IgotYourBack, do you have citations for this? I'm not at all disputing your argument, it certainly fits in with Gov Brownback and the Koch's agenda of moving even more taxes away from the upper income brackets to the lower by raising taxes on individuals while giving corporations even more breaks, but I would like to have some backup on it.

Thank you.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 8 months ago

V: Read these: Here are the research studies commissioned by the legislature on erosion of the tax base: Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs Wichita State University

Dave Trabert 6 years, 8 months ago

I agree that it's bad policy for government to pick winners and losers by giving away taxpayer money. That does increase the tax burden on all Kansans but the far greater problem is that government spends way too much money.

Property taxes increased 94% statewide between 1997 and 2010. Not mill rates...actual tax collections. That is nearly 3 times the rate of inflation (CPI, Midwest Urban Cities) which rose 32.7%. Taxes (driven by government spending) more than doubled in 39 counties and 21 of those counties had declining population. (Reference to tax collections in counties includes all taxing jurisdiction...cities, townships, school districts, etc.)

chootspa 6 years, 8 months ago

Hello, I'll be playing the role of Dave Trabert's full disclosure statement until he gets bored with trolling our boards. Dave Trabert is a Wichita resident and runs Kansas Policy Institute, a Koch-funded libertarian group that advocates for pretty much all the things the Kochs like to hear, but Dave assures us the Kochs and/or other groups don't dictate his messaging. They just give him more money when he says things they like to hear. See? Not controlling.

He's also a member of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force for ALEC ( for more info on that) and hasn't yet denied being on Brownie's super secret tax "reform" task force. The one that's paying Laffer to come draw on napkins or something for $75k. He also claims KPI has a "broad and growing" base of other secret donors that fear "economic harm" should their identities come to light, but thinks it's a horrible horrible thing that other people might want to post opinions anonymously on the Internet.

I'm not saying that he doesn't often supply figures from the state, as he's quick to point out. I'm saying he's practiced at framing government-supplied statistics in a highly deceptive manner and leaving out information we'd need for a sound and unbiased analysis, and we'd be fools to not consider the source and motives for any information he provides.

It's good to hear that you don't want to pick winners and losers by giving away our tax money. That means you're giving up your advocacy efforts for charter/voucher programs, since they pick losers and winners and give away our taxpayer money to non government groups and don't actually improve overal educational outcomes.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 8 months ago

Until the teachers and administration are put on a performanced based pay schedule we will continue to throw money at the problem and get the same thing.

chootspa 6 years, 8 months ago

It doesn't have anything to do with improving schools, either, so why not compound the error?

esteshawk 6 years, 8 months ago

Performance based? That concept negates the contribution from the student and parent. The teacher is only a piece of the puzzle. A teacher in inner-city KCK has got a heck of time compared to someone in Olathe.

thebigspoon 6 years, 8 months ago

Your ability to boil down the entire Brownback travesty to his "destroying education" is fabulous. There are no other reasons that this is happening to Kansas; there are no underlying reasons voters felt dispossessed than this; certainly not the many years of Bush and Co.'s running of the country specifically to benefit the large financial and business concerns so that they could benefit from lack of regulation, foreign investment, and dodging taxes by moving dollars off the continent, among other non-issues. Thank you for making this clear to us, who voted this idiot into office on a wave of, we thought, lack of trust in the government.

thebigspoon 6 years, 8 months ago

^^^^^This was in reply to Fossick's comment of 10:39. Sorry it's in the wrong place.^^^^

Fossick 6 years, 8 months ago

"Your ability to boil down the entire Brownback travesty to his 'destroying education' is fabulous"

Thank you. It's also sarcastic.

But I am genuinely curious how 'no educated person' could vote for him, yet 63% of voters, most of whom are products of the public schools, did. Must've been that 4 years of a Creationist school board that done it, huh?

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

Actually, he was elected by about 1/2 that percentage of eligible voters in KS, 50% of whom didn't vote at all.

And, as we've discussed, there isn't enough consistency, or perhaps a high enough standard in public education, to provide all citizens with a decent education.

On another thread about KS schools, it has been pointed out that the standards are too low here, and that reading with complete comprehension is an example of exceeding, rather than meeting, standards.

That's because NCLB lets each state determine those standards - local control leading to lower standards, as well as a lack of consistency across the nation.

Fossick 6 years, 8 months ago

Math is fun and all, but there's a reason we don't count the votes of those who cannot be bothered to vote. Though I suppose some here will eventually claim that it's a KKKobach plot to suppress Democrats, minorities, and the dead*.

  • [/sarc] I'm ashamed that I have to note that.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

When you say 63% of voters voted for him, that could mean eligible voters, in which case you're incorrect, or those who chose to vote, in which case you're right.

Either way, though, using that percentage makes it appear that he had a majority support that he didn't in fact have.

If you say 31.5% of eligible voters voted for Brownback, it is accurate, and portrays the truth that about 1/3 of eligible voters voted for him, and he did not command a majority of them in any way.

somedude20 6 years, 8 months ago

Maybe the state should sell cookies like the Girl Scouts to raise money or maybe have a giant yard sale. I would buy a few of the statues they have laying around the Capital including Brownback, if I could get it for cheap!

Paul R Getto 6 years, 8 months ago

SD20: Reminds me of the old bumper sticker: "It will be a wonderful day when the schools have the money they need and the AirForce has a bake sale to buy a new bomber." I'm not a pacifist and support the military when it is properly used. A better, newer bumper stick would be:
"It will be a wonderful day when the schools have the money they need and Wall Street has a bake sale to pay for employee bonuses."

verity 6 years, 8 months ago

Please quite calling the Brownback administration conservative. This liberal/conservative polarization and name-calling gets us nowhere. Most people may consider themselves generally one or the other, but have opinions which fit in the other designation.

Neo-conservative maybe. Short-sighted and ignorant certainly. An agenda to further destroy the working classes in order to further enrich the already wealthy which will end in further smashing the economy, but not conservative.

Fossick 6 years, 8 months ago

"Neo-conservative maybe"

That's not any better, and is certainly less accurate. Neoconservatism "advocates the assertive promotion of democracy and United States national interest in international affairs including through military means" (Websters) - it is primarily a foreign-policy approach or at least has a foreign-policy focus. It's hard to make that argument at a state level. Neo-conservative certainly means more than "person with whom I disagree."

Compassionate* Conservative is probably better, as promoted by el presidente pasado in his motto "When someone hurts, government has got to move." Though it might be better described as "when someone wants to get married, government has got to define it, license it, approve it, record it, give it a tax break, and make taxpayer-supported counseling available."

  • defined as "I'm willing to spend someone else's money to help you. Aren't I compassionate?"

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

How about "faux" or "pseudo" conservative?

Fossick 6 years, 8 months ago

That's the problem with labels - shift out from under people, groups, and movements over time. Even calling them 'psuedo' (and don't get me wrong, I agree) presumes some meaning of the word 'conservative' upon which even conservatives cannot agree. These psuedo conservatives believe that they are the Conservative movement, and if judged by offices held, white papers written, and tax-deductible donations collected, it's hard to argue they are not correct.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 8 months ago

"Please quite calling the Brownback administration conservative." === Good point. Dominist is more appropriate. Besides, it sounds better than the American Taliban, which could also be accurate.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 8 months ago

Sorry: Should read----------Domionist. "Dominionism is a term used to describe the tendency among some politically active conservative Christians to seek influence or control over secular civil government through political action, especially in the United States, with the goal of either a nation governed by Christians, or a nation governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law."

verity 6 years, 8 months ago

Good points, all of you who replied.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 8 months ago

Thanks, C1. Most of my friends will already be there, so that should be OK. Have fun in your heaven. I'd get tired of singing praises all day and night unless Pop Staples led the choir.

Fossick 6 years, 8 months ago

"For years Republicans have fought to destroy the education system in Kansas, electing Brownie simply validates the results."

This is amazing. So since Kansas is ranked as #4 of all states on the ACT* that must mean that Kansas has the 46th least Republican voter proportion, right?

I mean, if voting for people like Brownback is the metric for 'ignorance', and if that metric is based on the quality of the educational system, I see no other way to measure. Perhaps I'm reading it wrong. Help me out here.

Or maybe we're number #13: Yet we're far still far less ignorant than states like California (#46) or Hawaii (#42) or Oregon (#38). So how come all those states don't have someone even more Brownie-ish than Brownback? Have the Republicans simply not had enough time in power**?

Either those slacker states need to get on the bandwagon and prove your thesis, or your thesis that GOP = ignorant needs to be revised. I'm not much of a science guy, having been educated in Minnesota (#6). But I suspect that your little metric corresponds more to the wishes of the reality based community than it does with actual reality.

  • 1999 numbers, but still, these folks are prime voting age. ** oops, they're not in power in those states. My bad.

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