KASB Daily Education Roundup, Wed. March 6

A committee Wednesday advanced to the full Senate a school finance bill that implements an “inflation adjustment” proposed by the State Board of Education and endorsed by Gov. Laura Kelly as legislators returned to Topeka for the second half of the 2019 session.  

Meanwhile, House leaders say the House on Thursday will consider SB 22, which would cut taxes by approximately $200 million in the next fiscal year and could affect the ability of the state to adequately fund education and other needs. 

SB 22 would give corporations a significant tax break and allow taxpayers to itemize deductions for state income taxes regardless of whether taking the itemized or standard federal deduction. In the House Taxation Committee, the measure was amended to reduce the state sales tax on food from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent and levy sales taxes on some internet purchases. Please follow KASB on social media for developments on this debate. KASB opposes SB 22 as do other education groups. Gov. Laura Kelly has said it would be irresponsible to cut taxes at this point because of the need for additional school funding and restoring other areas, such as child welfare, prisons, KPERS and highways.  

On Wednesday, the Senate Select Committee on Education Finance held a public hearing on SB 142 and then quickly approved the measure. The bill would provide the inflation adjustment to school funding that Kelly and the State Board of Education say is needed to address the latest Kansas Supreme Court ruling in the Gannon lawsuit. 

The proposal would add $92 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1 and $89 million in the fiscal year after that. That’s on top of increases enacted in 2018. 

KASB testified in support of SB 142, saying the legislation would help settle the lawsuit by restoring funding to constitutional levels, improve student outcomes and provide the resources needed to boost Kansas’ total funding per pupil, which has dropped in relation to other states in recent years. 

A new controversy in the school finance debate erupted last week when the plaintiff school districts announced opposition to the proposal. Earlier, Schools For Fair Funding supported the plan but later said the measure had a drafting error that shorted the schools by hundreds of millions of dollars.  

The Kansas Policy Institute, which opposes funding increases to public schools, also testified against SB 142 and KNEA delivered neutral testimony. 

With committee passage, the bill can now be considered by the full Senate, but that hasn’t been scheduled yet. The House hasn’t had a committee hearing yet on school finance. 

A KASB Facebook Live discussion on Wednesday’s developments is available here. 

Earlier this session, the Senate committee received testimony on SB 44, containing Kelley’s proposed K-12 budget. Since then, Senate leaders separated the inflation adjustment into SB 142 and put the rest of K-12 education funding into SB 147, which is being considered by the Senate Ways and Means Committee 

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