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My Two Cents of Common Sense
"Northwest Kansas holds some truly inspiring scenery, contains a wealth of Old West history, possesses some of the finest educational institutions, promotes an entrepreneurial spirit, and is home to some of the most hard-working, genuine people I've ever met!"    ~ Adam Smith
1970 RD 3 Weskan, KS 67762
785-821-2568 (Cell)
300 SW 10th St, Suite 512N Topeka, KS  66612
785-296-0715 (Office)

School Finance passes committee

On a late night last week, the House K-12 Budget committee finalized HB 2445 - the bill that comprehensively addresses the school finance equity and adequacy formula - and passed it on to the entire chamber for debate and vote on Monday.

The bill addressed several of the specific equity issues found unconstitutional by the Kansas Supreme Court.
First, the court argued the new protest petition requirement for Local Option Budget (LOB) was inequitable because some districts had the ability to expand their LOB above the statutory 30% without the approval of the voters under the former block grant system. This bill states any resolution adopted during that time span would be void, and a new resolution subject to a protest petition be required. It didn't appear that any school district had done so without voter approval.

The second concern was that the determination of supplemental state aid was based on the LOB authority for each school district from the preceding school year. We changed this provision to simply calculate supplemental state aid on the current year's LOB as the court had advised.

The court has also ruled the 10% floor for at-risk students was a wealth-based weighting and therefore unconstitutional, so that 10% minimum was repealed in HB 2445.

The final equity piece rejected by the court was the expansion of authority for capital outlay funds for each district. Last year, the new formula included additions of utility and property and casualty insurance costs to be approved expenditures from the school's capital outlay fund. The courts found this inequitable due to the disparity of all district's ability to raise capital outlay funds. Our new bill this year strikes those additions.

Now for the elephant in the Capitol... adequacy of funding.

HB 2445 includes a $617 million funding increase scheduled over the next five years toward K-12 public education. There are critics that say it's not enough, those that say it's way too much, and those in between. Where you are at in that spectrum determines how you will look at the math.

For those that point to the cost study and over $2 billion that it showed we needed to spend to achieve the maximum performance, it's quite a bit short. They argue that it isn't even $617 million because you have to remove what was already allocated from last year - around $90 million plus the out years consumer price index growth. Using this math, the "new" money invested by this plan in five years is around $522 million.

On the other end of the argument comes a different type of math. It's the cumulative math, and it gets a much larger reaction due to a much larger number - the amount at the end of five years is actually over $2 billion!
Confusing? It was to me at first when I heard different people arguing different numbers about last year's tax plan. I quickly realized that people use different math to fit their narrative.

To over-simplify using laughably tiny numbers, let's say a school got $10 this year from the state. That amount is ruled unconstitutional.

Bill A was passed so they will be getting $12 and an additional $1 per year for four years. So, by the end of the fifth year, the school is receiving $16 per year. That amount is also ruled unconstitutional.

Bill B is passed to increase funding to $12 and an additional $2 per year for four years, ending with $20 per year by the fifth year.

Here's where the subjective math begins.

On the surface, it would appear that Bill B at $20 would be a $10 increase over what they are getting now.

For someone who thinks $20 is still too little, their reasoning would say Bill A was already supposed to be $16 at the end of year five so Bill B at $20 is really only a $4 increase.

For someone who thinks $10 is plenty, the cumulative sum of every dollar over $10 for each year yields an increase of $30.

You thought common core math was confusing!

In this example, the $4 is the $522 million, the $2+ billion is the $30, and the $10 increase is the $617 million.
Whichever math you choose, here's the bottom line: while not to the exact dollar, the funding provisions of HB 2445 can be worked backward, subtracting inflation, to the last year of court-approved constitutional funding under the previous Montoy lawsuit. The base state aid figure won't add up because there have been increases in funding not reflected in the base state aid number such as all-day kindergarten and special education.

Most are in agreement regarding the equity fixes, but the adequacy opinions range far and wide.
I strive to create and maintain constituent relationships through good communication. Two-way communication is essential to my effectiveness as a legislator in promoting successful solutions for Northwest Kansas! Please consider subscribing to my contact list or send me an email and I will add you.
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