KASB statement on tax bill override

What good will a tax increase do for the people of Kansas?

That question was asked during debate on the successful override of the tax bill veto, and it deserves on an answer. Here is what we know.

The states with the highest personal incomes and lowest poverty rates are NOT states with the lowest taxes. They are states with the highest education levels.

The states with the highest levels, and the states with the best K-12 student outcomes, are states that provide higher funding per pupil for K-12 education.

Those states with the best educational results hire more teachers, support staff and administrators per pupil to provide better services and more individualized instruction, and provide competitive salaries to attract and retain talented educators.

Low-spending states, on the other hand, have fewer educators, less funding to support student services, and worse results. As a result, their students are less prepared to compete in postsecondary education and the job market.

Since the Great Recession and the 2012 tax cuts, Kansas funding support for K-12 education has lagged behind most states. Although Kansas continues to be among the top performing states in overall education outcomes, most states been investing more, and their students are improving faster.

In short, Kansas has unilaterally been disarming in the battle that matters most for economic competition: education levels and employment skills. We have reversed our traditional commitment to education. Not only has Kansas education funding fallen behind other states; it has dropped to the lowest level compared to state personal income in three decades. In other words, we are spending less of our income to educate our children today than past generations, at a time when education matters more.

The tax increase passed this week will help turn those trends around and repair numerous areas of state services that have been cut and shortchanged. Under the school finance bill also passed this week, more funding will be available to help more students graduate and be better prepared for college and employment in higher skill, higher paying jobs. These funds will help struggling students succeed, and our successful students to do even better.

Finally, this tax increase does not take money from the Kansas economy; it simply reinvests it back into our communities in the form of new jobs, salaries paid (and spent) and more school district purchases from Kansas business.

We commend the Legislature for realizing that funding education is not an just expenditure. It is also an investment. Like any investment, it does require trade-offs. It means a little less spending now, but the result is a bigger return in the future. When considering the impact of a $600 million a year tax increase, remember that Kansans today are earning over $5 billion year more than they would if education levels were unchanged since 1990.

Kansas school boards are committed to working with our partners in the Legislature and State Board of Education to making this new investment pay off in the future.


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