In Your School Board Review: Medicaid, budget bills will impact Kansas schools

KASB members and allies should contact Kansas Members of Congress to urge them to reject proposed federal budget cuts to programs that are important to Kansas schools.

President Donald Trump’s federal budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 includes cuts to Medicaid reimbursements to schools as well as Department of Education cuts that would eliminate $56 million in funds to Kansas education programs and direct additional resources to “school choice” initiatives.

Trump’s budget calls for $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid, including reimbursements for school-based services. The cut assumes that a healthcare bill passed by the U.S. House becomes law.

In early May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which puts at risk the roughly $4 billion in annual Medicaid reimbursements for in-school services such as speech, physical therapy and behavioral therapy. Kansas Representatives Lynn Jenkins, Kevin Yoder, Roger Marshall and Ron Estes all voted in favor of the measure. Kansas schools receive approximately $46 million in Medicaid reimbursements.

The House bill also imposes a per-capita cap on certain populations, such as children, that are eligible for Medicaid services. Medicaid is currently an “entitlement” program that is designed to cover most costs for eligible people. Placing a per-capita cap on Medicaid would limit its scope of service.

The U.S. Senate is drafting its own version of the AHCA, so KASB members should contact Senator Pat Roberts and Senator Jerry Moran immediately to tell them how the House cuts would affect your students.

School leaders should also contact Jenkins, Yoder, Marshall and Estes to urge them to vote against Medicaid cuts in any future version of the AHCA as the two chambers resolve their differences on the legislation.

Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget for the federal Department of Education (DOE) would eliminate $18 million in Kansas Title II funding, eliminate the 21st Century Learning Center grant program that funnels $8 million to Kansas schools, and zero out the Impact Aid for Federal Property program that compensates Kansas schools for $30 million in foregone property taxes and for education costs associated with military-connected students.

Kansas schools use Title II funds for teacher professional development, to lower class sizes, promote STEM initiatives, and many other purposes. School districts use 21st Century Learning Center grants to offer before- and after- school programs and summer school.

Trump’s DOE budget adds $1.4 billion to Title I for public and private school choice programs, with a goal of appropriating $20 billion annually for those initiatives. It also includes $168 million for charter schools. In Kansas, charter schools operate under the supervision of the locally-elected board of education. In 2015-16, there were 10 charter schools in the state.

Finally, the proposal adds $250 million for a new private school choice program. Private school choice initiatives, often referred to as “vouchers,” generally direct education tax dollars away from public

schools to help subsidize the tuition of private and religious schools. In Kansas, state law allows corporations to receive a tax break in exchange for donations to an organization that grants scholarships to low-income children who wish to leave low-performing Kansas public schools to enroll in “participating qualified schools,” all of which are private or religious schools.

Contact info for Members of Congress:

Roberts: Phone: 202-224-4774

Moran: Phone: (202) 224-6521

Marshall: Phone: 202-225-2715

Jenkins: Phone: (202) 225-6601

Yoder: Phone: (202) 225-2865

Estes: Phone: (202) 225-6216

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