April 15, 2019
Review and Results
Hearings about funding and policy issues moved a great deal of legislation forward during the past few weeks.
Revenue: Estimates and Actuals
Before April 20, the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group will meet to evaluate the November revenue estimate and make necessary adjustments. Here is a brief explanation from the Division of Budget about this group and its role:
The tool used by both the governor and legislature to determine state general fund revenue is the “consensus revenue estimate” prepared by the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group. This group is composed of representatives from the Division of the Budget, Department of Revenue, Legislative Research Department, and one consulting economist each from the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University. Before Dec. 4, the group makes its initial estimate for the budget year and revises the estimate for the current year. By April 20, the group reviews the fall estimate along with any additional data. A revised estimate is published, which the legislature may use in adjusting expenditures, if necessary.
On May 1, we also will receive April revenue numbers. March numbers were $31 million above estimate, and I am hopeful that the trend will continue. For the fiscal year to date, Kansas has exceeded revenue estimates by $27 million.
K-12 Education Funding
The K-12 funding bill, in the form of a conference committee report, passed the House 76-47 and the Senate 31-8. I voted for it because I believe it provides the best opportunity to settle the multiyear lawsuit. The legislation provides $90 million per year over the next four years to account for inflation. This is in addition to the increases in base state aid passed last year. It also provides for additional accountability and transparency. For example, it:
The governor has signed the legislation, and the attorney general is preparing the legal briefs for its defense before the Kansas Supreme Court. Oral arguments will take place May 9, and the court will issue a decision on or before June 30.
- Requires the Kansas State Board of Education (KSBE) to identify and approve evidence-based programs provided by state-based national nonprofit organizations that:
- Focus on students who are eligible to receive at-risk program services or who face other identifiable barriers to success;
- Provide evidence-based instruction and support services to such students; and
- Evaluate outcomes data for such students, including, but not limited to, school attendance, academic progress, graduation rates, pursuit of post secondary education, or other career advancement.
- Requires the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to create one-page performance accountability reports for the state, each school district and each school building. The performance accountability reports must include information required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, or any successor act, and the college- and career-readiness metrics developed and implemented by the Kansas State Board of Education (KSBE).
- Amends the law that requires the KSDE to prepare annual school funding reports. The bill would require reporting about:
- The virtual student full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment in addition to the FTE for each school district; and
- All expenditures for legal services challenging the constitutionality of the school finance system under Article 6, Section 6 of the Kansas Constitution, including any dues or fees paid to an organization participating in such litigation.
- Establishes uniform Internet publication requirements for all required reports published by the KSDE and school districts. The bill would require the KSDE to publish school district budget documents, the one-page performance accountability reports, the annual longitudinal reports on student achievement, and the school district funding report on the homepage of its website under a prominently displayed link titled “Accountability Reports.”
- Requires the KSBE to provide the ACT college entrance exam and the three ACT WorkKeys assessments required to earn a national career-readiness certificate to each student enrolled in grades 11 and 12 at no charge to the students.
- Extends the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia until June 30, 2022, allowing the task force to meet once each year.
Claire and Lola’s Law
Claire and Lola’s Law (HB 2244), which I described in my March 24 newsletter, passed the House 89-35. The bill provides an affirmative defense for Kansas citizens who use CBD oil with 5 percent or less of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active ingredient in cannabis) to help control seizures associated with a debilitating medical condition.
I was happy for the Hartley family in Benton, whose daughters, Claire and Lola, were the inspiration for the bill. I introduced the bill earlier in the session and voted for its passage. It now rests in the Senate Judiciary committee, and we are working to find a path forward for the bill before this session concludes. Families who could benefit from this legislation have been the strongest advocates that I can recall. They are passionate, yet courteous and professional when talking with supporters and opponents. It has been a joy for me to be able to help them.
Medicaid expansion legislation remains in the Senate. There may be opportunities for it to yet be heard in that chamber before the session adjourns.
HB 2084 increases per-phone-line fees from 60 cents to 90 cents per month to pay for statewide upgrades to our 911 system. It passed the House 87-35 and the Senate 36-3. I voted in favor.
Impressive Young Pages
It’s both fun and enlightening to welcome young students from my district to the statehouse to serve as pages. I was privileged to welcome three teams of pages this year, and was impressed to hear their concerns about the future of our state.
Kaily Hernandez and Avery Grimwood with Governor Kelly
A.H. Reyes and Jacob Simons with Lt. Governor Rogers
Jayden Johnson and Grace Newland with Governor Kelly
Survey Says ...
Thank you to all who responded to my recent survey. Here’s a review of the results:
Do you support or oppose keeping the requirement to provide “suitable” education funding in the Kansas Constitution? (424 replies)
Strongly support – 67.6%
Somewhat support – 12.8%
Neutral – 7.8%
Somewhat oppose – 4.5%
Strongly oppose – 7.3%
Do you support or oppose applying a sales tax to all Internet purchases? (435 replies)
Strongly support – 37.5%
Somewhat support – 22.1%
Neutral – 13.6%
Somewhat oppose – 8%
Strongly oppose – 18.9%
Should Kansas keep the death penalty as it is now or abolish it for crimes committed after July 1, 2019? (421 replies)
Abolish – 42.3%
Neutral – 18.8%
Keep – 39%
Would you support any/all of the following options related to marijuana (more than one answer could be selected)? (437 replies)
Decriminalize non-violent marijuana possession – 55.8%
Allow medicinal marijuana use – 75.3%
Allow recreational marijuana use – 33.6%
No change to current law – 18.1%
How would you prioritize spending options from 1 to 5, 1 being most important and 5 of lesser importance?
Finalize the K-12 lawsuit (399 replies):
1 – 44.6%
2 – 19%
3 – 10.5%
4 – 12.5%
5 – 12.5%
Pass and fund Medicaid expansion (398 replies):
1 – 28.1%
2 – 23.9%
3 – 11.6%
4 – 14.8%
5 – 24.1%
Restore road funding for maintenance and expansion (420 replies):
1 – 26%
2 – 20.2%
3 – 22.1%
4 – 19.3%
5 – 11.2%
Restore higher education funding and adjust for inflation (403 replies):
1 – 17.9%
2 – 18.9%
3 – 25.8%
4 – 21.1%
5 – 16.1%
Improve salaries and benefits to recruit/retain corrections employees (407 replies):
1 – 12%
2 – 15.5%
3 – 19.2%
4 – 23.8%
5 – 29.2%
I’m currently reading Jon Meacham’s “The Soul of America,” a review of specific chapters of American history when troubles seemed insurmountable. At the beginning of his Introduction, Meacham includes the last part of President Lincoln’s first Inaugural Address in 1861:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Stay in Touch
I consider it an honor to serve all the constituents of my district, whether we agree or disagree. You teach me through your survey responses, and also through every note I receive or conversation we have. I intend to continue earning the trust you have placed in me, and to work for you — and with you — to advance commonsense solutions. When we pull together, I have no doubt that “the better angels of our nature” will prevail. Thank you!