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Mark's Musings - 2017 Legislative Session
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This Week in the Legislature
RETURNING TO WORK


We returned from our week-long break with new information regarding the K-12 lawsuit and the state’s latest revenue data. We are focusing more on our options for creating a stable budget and revenue plan, along with a new school finance formula. Work in committees outside of those areas has begun to slow as few bills came over from the Senate after Turn-around, thereby leaving the committees with little work to do.

It’s not an unusual situation, but does cause some of my freshman colleagues to wonder when we get to the big discussions on taxes, budgets and schools. As most Kansans know, if you don’t like the weather right now, just wait a few minutes and it will change. In our case, the weather will change in the next couple of weeks. The next deadline for us is April 7 (Drop Dead Day), after which no bills will be considered except for those vetoed by the governor, the omnibus appropriations act and omnibus reconciliations spending bill. That deadline is only 4 weeks away.

State Revenues


The Department of Revenue released the February revenue numbers on March 1. The news was positive indicating a $36.9 million increase over estimates. The trend of positive news is encouraging and if it continues will make the ultimate decisions on the rescission bill (the bill that gets us to a positive ending balance on July 1) a bit easier. Below is the link to the memo about the February revenues. If you like to follow this type of information, revenue numbers for the previous month are released on the first of every month. See it at https://tinyurl.com/jtk9sqc
 

Supreme Court Decision


On March 2, the Kansas Supreme Court released their decision on the Gannon lawsuit related to funding of K-12 schools. The decision is not difficult reading and the link below will take you to the decision. The bottom line is the judges unanimously ruled the state is not funding the schools adequately, through structure and implementation, in a manner that could reasonably assure that all public education students will meet or exceed the Rose standards. The judges did not set a specific dollar amount the state must spend on public education. The deadline for creating a constitutionally valid financing formula is June 30, 2017.

If you are not familiar with the Rose standards, they are a product of a 1989 school funding lawsuit in Kentucky. These standards are now part of Kansas statutes (K.S.A. 72-1127(c)) as a measure of the capabilities each student should demonstrate through an adequately funded education program. Following is an explanation of the standards:

“[A]n efficient system of education must have as its goal to provide each and every child with at least the seven following capacities: 
  1. sufficient oral and written communication skills to enable students to function in a complex and rapidly changing civilization; 
  2. sufficient knowledge of economic, social and political systems to enable the student to make informed choices; 
  3. sufficient understanding of governmental processes to enable the student to understand the issues that affect his or her community, state, and nation; 
  4. sufficient self-knowledge and knowledge of his or her mental and physical wellness; 
  5. sufficient grounding in the arts to enable each student to appreciate his or her cultural and historical heritage; 
  6. sufficient training or preparation for advanced training in either academic or vocational fields so as to enable each child to choose and pursue life work intelligently; 
  7. sufficient levels of academic or vocational skills to enable public school students to compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding states, in academics or in the job market."
Read more at Kansas Courts:  https://tinyurl.com/h8rsbso

Water Plan Funding


The Water and Environment committee, on which I serve, has been the busiest of my committees lately. The main objective has been to find a funding plan for the state water plan. The governor’s Blue Ribbon Water Plan Funding Taskforce coalesced around a constitutional amendment to use 0.1% from the state’s 6.5% sales tax rate to fund the plan. The committee had very little interest in that proposal. A secondary objective for the committee was to identify a small number of water projects or water-related activities (total dollar amount around $2 million) that can be funded in next year’s budget. The committee has identified those projects and now will prioritize them next week.

The identification of alternative funding mechanisms for the state’s water plan has been more elusive. Early proposals relied on increasing fees on fertilizer and pesticides about 50%, increasing municipal water fees, and charging fees on irrigators in primarily western and central Kansas. Although we will hear another bill on this issue, I believe a long-term funding mechanism will not be passed this year. Most would like the state to return to the funding they provided to the water plan in the past, which was $6 million from the state general fund and $2 million from EDIF (economic development initiative fund). However, over the last several years the state has kept that money to plug holes in the budget.

Fires


Living near the Flint Hills, all of us wonder at the marvel of the spring burning season. From time to time, a fire breaks free from the landowner’s best effort to contain it. I am sure you have read about the wildfires in western Kansas. These fires were not set to rejuvenate the grass, but were likely started by nature or inadvertent sparks.

The magnitude of the affected area is staggering, over 711,000 acres. To put that into perspective, it would be approximately the same as an area from Emporia to Marion to Herington to Council Grove and back to Emporia. I have included a link to an article from the Garden City Telegram describing how difficult it was to contain the fires and the devastation to property, livestock and human life. Fire can be fascinating to watch, a tool for improving the tallgrass, but also a runaway train. Please be careful with any outdoor flames or sparks during red flag warning days.

Read more in the Garden City Telegram: https://tinyurl.com/gmwy2cq

Quote of the Week:

 
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement
 that something else is more important than fear.”
Ambrose Redmoon
If you have questions about the activities in my committees or want to share your views on other issues before the legislature, please feel free to e-mail, text or call me. If you are visiting the Capitol, please stop by to say hello. I may be in a committee but my assistant, Deborah, will be glad to take a note.
 
Representative Mark Schreiber
Visit my website at http://www.schreiberforkansas.com/
 
Home
1722 Yucca Lane
Emporia, KS   66801
Home: 620-342-6954
Cell: 785-230-0897
Email: mschreiber82@gmail.com
 
 
Legislative Office
Room 167-W, State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, KS   66612
Phone: 785-296-2721
Email: mark.schreiber@house.ks.gov

 Paid for by Mark Schreiber for Kansas House – Cindy Lore, Treasurer
 

Contact Mark

 

StateHouse Office

Room 167-W
300 SW 10th Street,
Topeka, KS 66612
Phone: 785-296-2721
Mark.Schreiber@house.ks.gov

Home

1722 Yucca Lane
Emporia, Kansas 66801
Phone: 620-342-6954
mark@schreiberforkansas.com  
 

Communities
of the 60th District

 

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Copyright © 2017 Mark Schreiber for Kansas House, All rights reserved.


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