KASB President, Legislative Committee Chair send letter to Congress expressing grave concerns over federal tax bills

KASB President Dayna Miller and Past President/Legislative Committee Chair Amy Martin today sent a letter to the Kansas Congressional delegation urging Members of Congress to “work vigorously” to improve federal tax reform legislation that is headed to conference committee. 

The U.S. Senate approved its version of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” early Saturday morning; the House of Representatives passed the bill in mid-November. Each version of the bill contains provisions opposed by KASB’s member-approved legislative policy. 

The Senate and House bills provide for expansion of tax-free education savings accounts for up to $10,000 annually in K-12 tuition payments to private or religious schools. The Senate version adds homeschools to the list of expenses that are eligible for the tax credit.  

The KASB Delegate Assembly on Dec. 3 adopted a resolution opposing federal action to use public funding, directly or through tax credits, to support schools that are not required to accept all students on the same basis as public schools; are not required to meet the academic, performance and financial accountability standards of public schools; and are outside of the system of both local and state oversight. 

“The expansion of education savings plans to permit up to $10,000 annually in tax-free savings for K-12 tuition payments means that families who have already chosen to send their children to private schools will receive a tax break that will reduce federal revenue,” Miller and Martin wrote. “The federal budget will lose this revenue at a time when federal special education funding is far below the level promised by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, forcing Kansas school districts to shift millions of dollars to cover these costs. Yet the education savings account tax break will benefit private schools that are not required to provide special services. In fact, in Kansas, public schools must provide these services to private and home school students, regardless of federal funding. 

“We are deeply disappointed that both legislative bodies chose, despite repeated and widespread opposition from KASB and other education advocates, to prioritize non-public education over our state’s public schools. We urge members of the Kansas delegation, who have traditionally supported our public school system, to reconsider this provision.” 

The letter also notes the association’s opposition to the limitation of state and local tax deductions and the elimination of advance refund bonds.  

“KASB and its locally-elected members are keenly aware of the pressure you face to deliver a tax reform bill by the end of the year,” Miller and Martin conclude. “We urge you, however, to stand up for K-12 public education and use the reconciliation process to amend the legislation to address our concerns. Your Kansas constituents are counting on you to represent them.” 

House tax conferees have been appointed and Senate leadership is expected to announce its appointments this week. The conference committee may begin deliberations early next week as Congress pushes to finalize tax reform this month. 

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