Back to work on school finance and taxes

The fourth week of the 2017 veto session begins today with one scheduled meeting – the Senate Select Committee on Education Finance at 1:30 p.m. – but behind-the-scenes efforts continue trying to resolve the interwoven issues of school funding, tax policy and the state budget.

The House is not scheduled to debate its school finance bill, HB 2410, today, but there are methods to move it to general orders when leadership or the majority of members are willing to do so. An effort by House Democrats Friday to force debate failed on a near-party line vote.

The Senate Select Committee on Education Finance is scheduled to begin “working” SB 251 this afternoon, which means discussion and consideration of amendments, after seven hours of testimony last Thursday and Friday. The scope of this bill was widened beyond school finance by inclusion of a proposed fee added to utility bills to raise $150 million, and blocking cities and counties from abating the 20 mill statewide property tax and districts capital outlay levies.

The committee is expected to continue debating the bill tomorrow, with possible action on the Senate floor later this week.

On the tax side, three broad options seem under discussion: full repeal of the 2012 income tax cuts (leaving subsequent increases in other taxes in place), which raises over $700 million per year; a somewhat smaller income tax increase with three brackets raising between $500 and $600 million per year; and an even smaller income tax bill with two brackets, something Gov. Sam Brownback has indicated he might sign.

The first option seems large enough to fund the current state budget, the school finance plans under consideration by the House and Senate for the next two years, and full contributions to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.

The second option would likely require some additional revenue, such as the utility fee or other alternatives to cover the three items above.

The third option would likely require cuts in the budget, delays in KPERS and possible other revenue for school finance.

The first two options will likely require substantial Democratic support to overcome an expected veto by the Governor. The third is seen as a “Republican-only” approach the Governor would sign, but raise far less funding for state programs, including education.

KASB will continue to provide regular updates through News Briefs, social media and Facebook Live reports. We will schedule a webinar when a school finance bill clears the Senate committee or the House.

Share this post