Archive for Monday, December 23, 2013

Editorial: A first step

Proposing funding for all-day kindergarten is one thing; making sure it survives the legislative session is another matter.

December 23, 2013


Having the governor voice support for funding all-day kindergarten across the state is a good start for the upcoming session of the Kansas Legislature, but the real test will come at the end of the session when the kindergarten funding either is or isn’t included in the final budget legislation signed by the governor.

Earlier this week, Gov. Sam Brownback proposed having the state provide $80 million over the next five years to fully fund all-day kindergarten. Brownback said the proposal came out of meetings he recently held with selected legislators and school officials. That’s not surprising; educators are well aware that all-day kindergarten is a tried and true way to improve student achievement throughout their school years.

Presumably, Brownback will include the kindergarten funding in the budget he presents next month. What happens after that, however, may test the governor’s resolve to keep the kindergarten funds in next year’s budget.

It would be too bad if the kindergarten funds met a fate similar to increased higher education funding that was included in Brownback’s budget last January. Although Brownback voiced support for additional funds and even toured the state near the end of the session to tout his position, he nonetheless ended up signing a budget that didn’t include the higher education boost.

Proposing funding for all-day kindergarten is a good first step, but Brownback then has to exercise the necessary leadership to gain legislative approval for the proposal. Is the all-day kindergarten proposal important enough to withstand what is shaping up as another tight budget year? Property tax revenue to fund K-12 schools is falling below expectations, and a supplemental allocation probably will be necessary just to get through the current year.

A ruling is expected soon from the Kansas Supreme Court in a lawsuit that claims the state isn’t meeting its constitutional obligation on school funding. If the court orders additional state funding for K-12 schools, will the governor stand firm on his all-day kindergarten proposal or allow it to fall by the wayside? Or perhaps employ some questionable funding tactic similar to the recent decision to divert funds from general assistance programs for needy Kansas families to support a program aimed at improving student reading skills?

Proposing funding for all-day kindergarten is one thing; making that funding a reality is another matter. It will be interesting to see whether, or in what form, this proposal survives the upcoming session.


Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 2 months ago

Brownback figures on All Day Kindergarten don’t add up

Gov. Sam Brownback announced an initiative to fully fund all day kindergarten in Kansas public schools. He originally implied that phasing this plan in over five years would cost

$16.3 million per year for five years, totaling $81.5 million. He failed to mention a funding mechanism in his announcement. When asked, Brownback only said vaguely that “the state has built up a healthy balance and can afford the program with existing revenues.”

This is not accurate.

According to Dale Dennis at the Kansas State Department of Education, the implementation cost of all day kindergarten would be $81.5 million if implemented in one year. If the decision is made to implement all-day kindergarten over a five-year period, it would require an additional $16.3 million per year for five years. The cumulative total cost for the five-year phase-in would be approximately $244.5 million.

• Year 1 = $16.3 million • Year 2 = $32.6 million • Year 3 = $48.9 million • Year 4 = $65.2 million • Year 5 = $81.5 million • Total = $244.5 million

The most recent five-year budget outlook provided by the nonpartisan Kansas Department of Legislative Research indicates that the state is already spending significantly more than it is taking in ($108 million in FY2014, $204 million in FY2015). The current state surplus is being rapidly depleted, with a projected $21.3 million deficit expected by FY2018.

In addition to All Day Kindergarten, there are other significant SGF expenditures that Brownback has assured Kansans will be restored, including:

• Restored funding for higher education = $49 million • Restored funding for public safety = $8 million • Funding for lower than expected mill levy revenues for K12 = $37 million

Unless Brownback plans to cut other programs or propose another tax increase, there is not enough revenue available in existing resources to fully fund all day kindergarten.

“Gov. Brownback has offered many promises to Kansans over the last three years, but the numbers just never seem to add up,” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis. “Kansans deserve straight answers from their leaders, but the Brownback Road Map has been littered with bad math, broken promises, and shell games.”

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