Thursday, October 23, 2014

Education funding

3/31/2014

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled and the Legislature is to find $129 million this year to begin meeting state statutes to adequately fund public education. So what did the Democrats in the House do? Under the leadership of state Rep. Paul Davis, R-Lawrence, they presented a solution that would restore the $129 million and provide property tax relief.

The Republicans under the leadership of Marc Rhoades presented a bill that would restore the $129 million with anti-public education proposals attached. State Rep. Rhoades, R-Newton, proposed giving tuition tax credits to corporations which would result in a $10 million loss in tax revenue, allow charter schools to receive public education funds but no regulations or rules, expand “innovative schools,” eliminate teacher licensure requirements for science and math, and allow school principals to give bonuses to whomever they want.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled and the Legislature is to find $129 million this year to begin meeting state statutes to adequately fund public education. So what did the Democrats in the House do? Under the leadership of state Rep. Paul Davis, R-Lawrence, they presented a solution that would restore the $129 million and provide property tax relief.

The Republicans under the leadership of Marc Rhoades presented a bill that would restore the $129 million with anti-public education proposals attached. State Rep. Rhoades, R-Newton, proposed giving tuition tax credits to corporations which would result in a $10 million loss in tax revenue, allow charter schools to receive public education funds but no regulations or rules, expand “innovative schools,” eliminate teacher licensure requirements for science and math, and allow school principals to give bonuses to whomever they want.

According to the commissioner of education, there might be a possible violation of federal guidelines which could cost the state federal dollars. This is an agenda item of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their plan is to destroy public education and create an environment of private, for profit, schools. Many members of the House and Senate belong to ALEC and vote their agenda, not their constituents. Should we remind Rhoades, a member of ALEC, which we are already struggling to adequately fund public education and he is proposing more cuts.

Don’t you wonder why the Legislature is addressing these issues when we elect a state board of education who have extensive educational backgrounds?

Kansas is funding base state aid per pupil near the 1992-93 level. In 1992, the cost of a gallon of gas was $1.13 and a Big Mac from McDonalds was $1.  According to state statutes, base aid in 2014 should be $4,492 and it is at $3,838. Gov. Sam Brownback has not added new dollars to public education in the past two years and, in fact, Brownback signed into law the largest cut to public education in history taking $270 million since fiscal year 2009.

It is simple arithmetic: your child’s education is being shorted so we can give hefty tax breaks to his pals, large corporations. The $129 million will undoubtedly come from the remaining surplus created when Gov. Mark Parkinson signed into law the one cent sales tax which was scheduled to sunset in 2013. This created a $700 million surplus that Brownback has tried to take credit for but all he has done is dip into the surplus. Members of ALEC can be found at www.sourcewatch.org

— Shelley Dunham,

Council Grove

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