State Budget Director says Gannon funding will be there

Gov. Laura Kelly’s budget chief on Thursday stated the governor would push for the increased public school funding called for under the Gannon settlement.

State Budget Director Larry Campbell’s comments came during a meeting of the Governor’s Council on Tax Reform in response to concerns about school funding needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shannon Kimball, a member of the Lawrence USD 497 board and former KASB president, said many districts are having to spend more to combat the coronavirus while also suffering decreased enrollment.

Campbell said Kelly is committed to pushing for the approximately $100 million increase for K-12 in the next fiscal year. “I don’t see that that would be diminished in any way,” he said.

The Legislature will return to Topeka in January finding an improved budget picture because revenues have come in higher than earlier estimated and allotments implemented by Kelly.

Still, state budget experts expect problems in the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2021. The Tax Reform Council decided to write a letter to Kansas’ congressional delegation, urging them to work on passing a second federal stimulus bill to provide revenue to states that have been hurt economically by the pandemic and accompanying economic slowdown.

The Council also approved recommending the same tax policy changes that it recommended last session, which was cut short by the pandemic.

Those recommendations include:

— Assessing the sales tax on digital goods, such as digital books, music and subscriptions. This would raise about $50 million per year and supporters say it would level the playing field between regular stores and retailers selling digital products.

— Require market place facilitators, such as Amazon, to collect and remit sales taxes on products sold in Kansas. This would raise about $30 million per year and Kansas is one of only three states that doesn’t have a marketplace facilitator provision.

— Passage of a refundable food sales income tax credit that would benefit as many as 400,000 Kansans. The proposal would cost about $50 million per year.

— Renewing the Local Ad Valorem Property Tax reductions that have been suspended since 2002.

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