Archive for Friday, January 20, 2017

Some GOP lawmakers in Kansas looking to cut school funding

The Kansas Statehouse in Topeka

The Kansas Statehouse in Topeka

January 20, 2017

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— Some top Republican legislators in Kansas are looking to cut aid to public schools significantly to avoid accounting moves proposed by GOP Gov. Sam Brownback to close a hole in the state budget by June 30.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Carolyn McGinn, a Sedgwick Republican, said she's drafting a bill to cut spending to close the projected $342 million shortfall in the state's budget. She said it would reduce aid to schools by between $90 million and $125 million, and she hopes to have it ready next week.

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, suggested that legislators will pursue even larger cuts in education funding. He said public schools probably could "stomach" a $200 million reduction before the summer.

Their comments were in line with statements from Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, that Kansas should make immediate, structural changes in its budget to close the shortfall. Brownback has instead proposed liquidating a state investment fund and using the cash to back internal government borrowing to be paid back over seven years.

"Everything will be on the table," McGinn said of her proposal. "School funding just happens to be where a lot of our money is."

Talk of cutting education funding comes as Brownback, legislators and educators await a decision from the Kansas Supreme Court on whether the state is spending enough money on its public schools to provide an adequate education to every child. The court heard arguments in September in a lawsuit filed by four districts in 2010.

Also, other legislators, including some Republicans, are skeptical such cuts can pass.

"It's somewhat of an aggressive move to take while we're waiting for a Supreme Court decision on school finance," said House Majority Leader Don Hineman, a Dighton Republican.

The state has struggled to balance its budget since Republican legislators slashed income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging in what even some GOP voters now view as a failed attempt to stimulate the economy. Many legislators are ready to roll back part of those tax cuts but acknowledge they can't raise new revenues quickly enough to close a budget gap by June 30.

"While Governor Brownback's proposed budget makes cuts to education unnecessary, it is the Legislature's prerogative to propose such cuts," spokeswoman Melika Willoughby said in an emailed statement.

When legislators have trimmed education funding in the middle of past school years, the state's 286 local districts have reduced programs, cut schools days and left positions unfilled.

"I don't think there's any question that you'll see fewer teachers, and you're going to see larger class sizes," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat.

But top Republicans argue that districts could tap contingency funds they've been putting away for emergencies. On Jan. 1, schools had $201 million of those funds, part of nearly $1.1 billion in cash reserves they carried into the new calendar year.

Districts have begun each school year with between $190 million and $217 million in contingency funds since 2010.

"It's a possible way for them to get through the cuts," McGinn said.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., an Olathe Republican, said legislators will review data about individual districts to determine whether cutting their aid is feasible.

But Hensley said school districts build up contingency funds because they're uncertain about the future and want to have a cushion for difficult economic times.

"That's not our money," he said.

Comments

Tim Foley 10 months ago

What???!!! I'm shocked (in no way).

Harlan Hobbs 10 months ago

It isn't the amount of money that matters, but where it is spent. After all, Madame Hillary hugely outspent President Trump, but where did it get her?

Greg Cooper 10 months ago

And you're a school administrator? Or you attend each and every school board meeting so you know the amount that's "wasted"? Or you have even been in a school building in the recent past and asked questions? What, exactly, leads you to your opinion, Harlan?

If you're going to blather about money and schools and outcomes, you had better be able to come up with some actual reasons for your opinion. Otherwise you seem just the same as the legislators who haven't a clue either. Which I think you are.

Richard Quinlan 10 months ago

I find it criminal that these useless legislators would choose to cut school funding as opposed to growing a fricking spine and fixing the revenue issue that they have created. Does Brownie have videos of all of you or what ? What are you afraid of , losing your half A$$ legislator job.

Ok Harlan , share your knowledge of school budgeting with us all. My experience seems to indicate short staffs , increasing demands , material shortages , families in need of support services and overloaded staffs.

Carol Bowen 10 months ago

From 2010 through 2015 in the Kansas final budget summaries, Education increased 6.5% while the total budget increased 12.24%

In 2010, Education was 66.5% of the total budget. In 2015, Education was 63.1% of the total budget.

Looks like th nonEducation budget might have some fat.

Rick Aldrich 10 months ago

I just don't understand how our Kansas government can annually Rape our struggling school system and find it a okay thing to do. Just blows my mind that these spineless politicians can set back and make LARGE annually saleries and instead of giving up some of their NOT hard earned money instead of stealing it from our children's schools. I can't waaaait for the day brownback if gone.

Richard Heckler 10 months ago

Petition – Stop Wall Street Pension Scams/Theft http://act.credoaction.com/sign/brokerdealers?nosig=1&t=1&akid=13852.1167330.-BUUSq

KPERS Is in serious trouble if not in jeopardy..... no matter what.

Americans have not witnessed economic inequality favoring the richest 1% since the 1920s and it is about to get worse; much, much worse if the Koch brothers’ American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), State Policy Network, and their Republican facilitator Paul Ryan have their way.

There has been virtually no increase in wealth for everyone below the top 0.1% of Americans.

Republicans, Koch brothers, Wall Street, ALEC, and the State Policy Network are crusading to rob to enrich corporations, Wall Street, and the richest 1%.

Toward the end of 2013, ALEC joined its Koch-funded sister organization, the State Policy Network, in a campaign to dismantle public pension systems completely as one of its top 2014 legislative priorities.

The Plot Against Pensions that focused on the work of a former Enron executive, John Arnold, to promote the false notion that there is a public-pension “crisis” that is solved by replacing pension programs with scams that shift all the risks to workers, eliminates benefits, and create incredible new profits for Wall Street.

ALEC decided pension wealth for retirees was better spent on tax cuts for the rich and Wall Street and is working to convince states to convert public pensions to 401(k) plans or other “defined contribution” plans that took a righteous beating in the 2008 market crash.

http://www.politicususa.com/2014/04/08/alec-paul-ryan-team-convert-pensions-tax-cuts-millionaires.html

Petition – Stop Wall Street Pension Scams/Theft http://act.credoaction.com/sign/brokerdealers?nosig=1&t=1&akid=13852.1167330.-BUUSq

Dave Trabert 10 months ago

The Lawrence school district had $5 million in operating reserves at the end of the 2005 school year. They finished last year with $25 million. The $20 million increase represents aid received but not spent over the period. http://www.kansasopengov.org/kog/databank#report_id=24&DistrictName=Lawrence

Greg Cooper 10 months ago

Tell us, Dave, what that $25,000,000 is to be used for, then. If it's for tapestries on the Super's wall, banquets for the unclassified staff, that kind of thing, then I'm as angry as can be.

But it's not, is it, Dave? Be honest and tell me what that reserve is for, Dave. My theory is that the school board has anticipated the truly political climate concerning PUBLIC schools and has done a masterful job of creating a contingency fund for when your guys reduce school funding even more. Is that honest or not?

Dave Trabert 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Most of that $25 million can be used at the board's discretion by law. As for your theory of anticipating funding cuts, the district's own history...as well as districts statewide...shows otherwise. There were no funding cuts between 2005 and 2009 but Lawrence pushed their cash reserves from $5 million to $23 million by not spending all of their aid. The first tiny cut came in 2010 followed by an even smaller reduction in 2011. Funding has since increased.

Greg Cooper 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Most? For capital outlay, what part? For instruction, what part? So, between 2009 and now, the Lawrence schools have effectively salted away only $2M? Sounds as if they've anticipated, and actively, the difficulty of maintaining emergency funds, wouldn't you say? I'd be interested, as I do not know, what the state allows the districts to spend this reserve on.

As a side, what amount of money do you think is a wise reserve for Lawrence, or any school district? Seems to me that, unlike our legislature, the local school board has some idea as to future security. Does that not indicate financial responsibility?

Amy Varoli Elliott 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Dave have you been able to get a single one of your papers published in a peer review journal yet? I see that you come here and scream your lies but yet you have nothing to back it up. Go away troll

Carol Bowen 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Given the unstable funding for education right now, it would seem wise to have cash reserves. Is there a problem trimming the nonEducation budgets?

Bob Summers 10 months ago

Per student, Kansas spends more money than any other country in the world spends on their students.

The American students' proficiency in reading, math and science worldwide, fail to crack the global top 20.

Is this money well spent?

...and Liberals want more money? For what? The Union chiefs? So they can hire more lawyers to fight for seniority (tenure) rights?

Carol Bowen 10 months ago

Not all other countries educae all their children.

Greg Cooper 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Bob, that's a tired old argument that means nothing in this context. It takes into account no differences in cost between US and foreign nations' acquisition of materials, labor rates, or anything even remotely akin to apples and apples.

Do we "crack the top 20" in those subjects? Maybe not. But, do our public schools provide aid to needy students, physically and mentally and emotionally challenged students? Damn right they do. Give me a comparison between us and them, and I'll listen. Do we provide vast amounts of vocational training to students? You'd better believe it, and some of that has little to do with the things you stress. That's money spent that doesn't show up in your vaunted "top 20". Are your sacred "top 20" scores inclusive of privately educated students? Do you think that might make a difference? I have no idea, but it's something worth looking at before you throw out the baby with the bathwater, wouldn't you think?

Be real, Bob. Why don't you just be honest and say you have no interest in paying for public education, because that's your argument, isn't it? Give me a reason for reducing public education funding but doing our damndest to build and maintain the roads, streets, bridges, police departments, highway patrol departments, sheriff's departments, and fire services that you use or have access to. Can you do that with honesty, Bob?

Thought not. And don't give me any of your "genetic liberal" obfuscation. Be upfront, be honest. Just answer my questions. Maybe a conversation can start.

Amy Varoli Elliott 9 months, 4 weeks ago

maybe we should try what the top countries do and actually pay our teachers a living wage

Richard Quinlan 10 months ago

Trabert , a known paid troll and hack for the Koch Brothers and Brownie , I hope you are proud of your work over the past 8 years. Your group has singlehandedly ruined the financial stability of the State of Kansas. Jeopardized the fiscal stability of our pension system , our school system , our services to those in need system , our highway funds , annuities that were meant to fund childrens services and smoking cessation services. Yes I hope you are proud that you selling yourself and in turn selling out your home state makes you feel good. Go see God he'd like to have a word with you.

Dave Trabert 10 months ago

It's unfortunate that many of those who cannot engage on the facts resort to name-calling. We provide verifiable government data that citizens often cannot get from media and government, so they can make informed decisions. I take it by your response that you have no disagreement with the facts I shared, as you made no attempt to refute.

Greg Cooper 9 months, 4 weeks ago

OK, Dave, here's a copy of my response to Bob earlier today. If you substitute "Dave" for "Bob" it fits perfectly. Please read and respond. thanks.

"Bob, that's a tired old argument that means nothing in this context. It takes into account no differences in cost between US and foreign nations' acquisition of materials, labor rates, or anything even remotely akin to apples and apples.

"Do we "crack the top 20" in those subjects? Maybe not. But, do our public schools provide aid to needy students, physically and mentally and emotionally challenged students? Damn right they do. Give me a comparison between us and them, and I'll listen. Do we provide vast amounts of vocational training to students? You'd better believe it, and some of that has little to do with the things you stress. That's money spent that doesn't show up in your vaunted "top 20". Are your sacred "top 20" scores inclusive of privately educated students? Do you think that might make a difference? I have no idea, but it's something worth looking at before you throw out the baby with the bathwater, wouldn't you think?

"Be real, Bob. Why don't you just be honest and say you have no interest in paying for public education, because that's your argument, isn't it? Give me a reason for reducing public education funding but doing our damndest to build and maintain the roads, streets, bridges, police departments, highway patrol departments, sheriff's departments, and fire services that you use or have access to. Can you do that with honesty, Bob?"

Amy Varoli Elliott 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Dave I take it by your lack of response that you have no disagreement with the facts he shared

Dave Trabert 9 months, 4 weeks ago

You shouldn't confuse my declining to engage on a comparison between US and foreign countries with anything else.

Greg Cooper 9 months, 4 weeks ago

That comparison is a quite apt one, if someone could answer the question I asked in context of foreign nations' education spending vis a vis academic outcomes. i only asked if our not being in the top 20 academically had anything to do with education spending, and for a comparison of our spending with the nations that DO comprise the top 20. Does that not make sense, that we compare apples with apples? Otherwise, Dave, we are left with only your definition of efficiency and academic achievement. And that seems quite a bit less than enough, wouldn't you agree?

Richard Quinlan 10 months ago

Mr. Trabert , your influence on Kansas deserves no polite response. The facts are what they are , youre a paid propagandist plain and simple.

Greg Cooper 9 months, 4 weeks ago

A question for Mr. Trabert:

Dave, in the event that the federal education department and/or the Kansas legislature professed a monetary preference for private but publicly funded schools, would you be for or against that preference?

Dave Trabert 9 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm not sure what you mean by 'monetary preference' so I can't respond to that. But if you're asking whether I would be in favor of legislation that gives low income parents more options to get their children the education they deserve, the answer is yes.

Amy Varoli Elliott 9 months, 4 weeks ago

so you don't want to fix schools rather farm out kids to for profit schools to make them more money. Why are you so against public education? What research do you have that shows this works, please only share verified research that has been published and reviewed by your peers, not "research" that is not verified or reviewed, that is just opinion papers

Greg Cooper 9 months, 4 weeks ago

No, Dave, that's not what I asked. My question is: would you for or against state tax money being given, in any form, to private schools? It's an easy question, so please don't be semantically difficult. Thank you.

Ken Schmidt 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Greg and Dave, why are we beating around the bush. The term is vouchers. Greg, I believe Dave answered your question, but not in the manner you wanted because you provided the subjective term, monetary preference. That indicates you felt that preference existed---and I agree, probably rightfully. It gave Dave a moment to interpret your question however he wanted.

Because I am interested in his argument also, I will ask in a manner which was used most in the congressional hearings this week, do you believe in the voucher system? Do you believe it truly gives all students equal access to the education they want? I am interested in how YOU would answer Senator Hassan's question to DeVos regarding how a child with a disability, covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, would get a good education if the funding the school currently receives is pulled and used for a voucher? If that funding is collectively needed to enable that program, and pulling it causes financial hardship for the school to maintain it, where does the parent turn? One of the large improvements in the 1980s was the process, spearheaded during the Reagan administration and Nancy herself, of moving children with needs out of segregated, "Island" schools where they could not interact with other children their age, and back into the school rooms of non-disabled children. There were fewer "special" schools and more public schools with better resources to give attention to these kids who needed it most. What's to stop schools, public and private, from selectively not serving this population if they see greater profits from such a stance? Who will force them if the people simply say, "that's not right" and our lawmakers choose to ignore the words? Isn't the most likely scenario, returning to "island" schools again?

Your stance of "trimming the fat" (my own generalization) is not entirely unmerited in every case. I see examples at every business, school systems not excluded, where the lights are always on, the thermostat is in the mid 70s, to cherry pick a few issues. But to systematically suggest a change, a la repeal of the Kansas LLC tax before fully studying and anticipating it's effects is reckless and wonting. Dave, you have a history of disappearing when the questions become difficult. I hope that is not the case here...

Carol Bowen 9 months, 4 weeks ago

In the six years ending in 2015, Kansas' total budget increased over 12%. The Education portion of the budget decreased. Administration and services increased. In the spirit of smaller government, we should be looking at those increases before we cut Education, especially because of pending the court cases.

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