Wrap-up session starts Wednesday with many school issues still up in the air

The Kansas Legislature returns Wednesday for the so-called wrap-up session to find a lot left unwrapped, including many measures that would affect public schools.

Since the end of the first part of the 2016 session last month, state tax receipts cratered again; this time producing a $94 million revenue hole in the current fiscal year and $135 million in the next one, which starts July 1.

In response, Gov. Sam Brownback has provided legislators with several proposed budget cuts, including a $57 million cut to public schools, which his budget director, Shawn Sullivan, has described as the governor’s least favorite option.

Some legislators have called for a reversal of Brownback’s tax exemption for business owners, but Brownback has signaled he is not interested in tackling that subject.

In addition to the funding problem, there are numerous other education issues yet to be decided.

House Bill 2741 would institute sweeping changes to public schools that are opposed by KASB and other education groups. The bill would stop state funding of extracurricular activities and start spending tax dollars to send children to private schools and home schools without any student performance accountability. Legislative leadership has not indicated whether there will be hearings on the bill.

In addition, a House-Senate conference committee is working on a package that includes measures that would provide restrictions on state aid for school district bond projects, restrict some student online data; assess children who are deaf and hard of hearing; require school personnel to receive suicide prevention training and adopt recommendations from the Emergency Safety Intervention Task Force.

Also in conference committee are bills on Working After Retirement and limits on calculation of KPERS benefits.

A more detailed discussion of these and other bills is here.

To get the latest developments from the wrap-up session, please follow KASB’s News Briefs and KASB on Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter, follow @tallman_mark, @tomkrebs1 and @srothschild1.

April 26, 2016