Legislative Report -March 31st, 2017
The K-12 Education Budget committee concluded its hearings on House Bill 2410 on Monday and did not meet again until Thursday while numerous behind the scene meetings took place in efforts to address the many concerns raised by conferees. The committee commenced its deliberations shortly after the House adjourned and did not adjourn until about 9:00 pm. A long day, as we evaluated the many amendments made to House Bill 2410. The following is a list of important changes the committee made to the bill:
Enrollment – The base enrollment will use the prior year’s single count date of September 20th, except that military students will still be able to use a February 20th count. The proposed more complicated mechanism was abandoned.
Bilingual Weighting – The proposed five year limit on funding was removed. The proposed 0.1 weighting on headcount, the new alternate weighting, was increased to 0.185 to provide the same total funding as the other weighting that uses contact hours.
Local Option Budget – Retains the previous LOB. The proposed establishment of a Local Foundation Budget (LFB), Local Enhancement Budget (LEB) and Local Activities Budget (LAB was rejected. Rep. Patton, who offered this amendment, contended that use of this new approach could raise equity concerns with the court in addition to restricting local control in the use of LOB funds.
Low and High Enrollment Weighting – The low and high enrollment weighting of the prior formula will be used instead of the proposal that kept only the low enrollment weighting at a reduced 3.504 percent.
High Density At-Risk – The proposal to provide aid to districts with enrollment of 3,000 students and at least 60% free lunch: 10.5%; districts with less than 2,000 or less than 50% free lunch: 0%, was deleted and the previous high density at-risk weighting was restored to the bill. In addition, districts with less than 10 percent of their students with “free lunch” will be able to receive aid as if they had 10 percent at-risk students, provided they also report to the state board those students identified who are receiving at-risk services pursuant to rules and regulations adopted by the state board.
Vocational Education Weighting – The proposal to eliminate the previous vocational education 0.5 weighting and replace it with $100 per student of the BASE Aid placed in a “Career and Postsecondary Education Fund” was rejected. The previous 0.5 weighting is continued until July 1, 2018, and the state board is directed to conduct a study of vocational education costs to use in evaluating how CTE should be dealt with in future years.
All-Day Kindergarten – To be fully funded at an estimated cost of $23.0 million.
Preschool Programs – $2.0 million added for both FY 18 and FY 19.
Professional Development – $1.7 million added for both FY 18 and FY 19.
Teacher Mentoring – $800,000 added for both FY 18′ and FY 19′.
LPA Performance Audits – Legislative Post Audit is to conduct a performance audit to provide a reasonable estimate of the cost of providing educational opportunities for every public school student in Kansas to achieve the performance outcome standards adopted by the state board of education. The performance audit is to be conducted three times beginning in FY 19 and until FY 25 in a manner similar to the cost studies the LPA conducted in 2006.
Capital Outlay – Utilities is added as an item that capital outlay funds could be used for.
New Facilities Weighting – The new facilities weighting was restored, but only for those bond issues approved prior to July 1, 2015.
Transportation Weighting – An amendment that would restore the original calculation for transportation was tabled until Monday with the intent to fix the “math error”, but not decrease the amount of funding currently going to transportation aid.
Low Income Students Scholarship Act – Does not expand the program as contained in the original bill. Requires “qualified schools” to be accredited or a nonpublic school whose ACT scores exceed the statewide average for all schools. Considerable discussion on this issue. An attempt was made to phase out the program.
Much more could be added about the committee debate and amendments discussed. The contentious votes were usually 9 to 7 either way. Some of the amendments not adopted included: funding virtual at 1.0 instead of at $5,000; eliminate the capital outlay levy from future redevelopment (TIF) property tax exemptions; require a 10 year phase in of more detailed school financial reporting; and, require the state board to determine appropriate levels of school district unencumbered balances. The committee will take up the bill again next week and have available updated information on what the current fiscal note is to the bill. The KSDE’s last update on March 24th indicated that it would require $80.8 million in new spending, a figure many still believe too low to satisfy the court. We will see if there will be any more attempts to make changes to the bill. Leadership wants this bill passed and sent to the Senate before Friday’s adjournment.Read More
Legislative Report -March 24th, 2017
The wait is finally over, at least as far as finally seeing in print House Bill 2410, the plan proffered by Chairman Larry Campbell of the K-12 Education Budget Committee as the legislature’s answer to the Kansas Supreme Court’s directive to provide a constitutional school finance formula that meets the equitable and adequate requirements of the Kansas Constitution. The bill contains many of the funding concepts the committee previously discussed as needing to become a part of the new plan; however, it also appears that Rep. Clay Aurand, who was tasked by the chair to help him put it together, included changes to the weightings and plan design that had not been specifically discussed by the committee. Regardless, Chairman Campbell has promised that at the conclusion of final testimony on Monday the committee should be prepared to offer their amendments with the goal of making this a bill that will be supported by all on the committee. House Bill 2410 is the start.
Legislative Report -March 17th, 2017
Activity picked up this week with the House K-12 Education Budget Committee beginning its discussion about what they want to put into the first draft of their school finance plan. The newly appointed Senate Select Committee on Education Finance held its first meeting on Thursday. In addition, for the first time in recent years, the Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court was invited to give his annual State of the Judiciary address on Wednesday at a joint meeting of the Senate and House in the Hall of Representatives. Then late last night the Senate by a roll call vote of 7 to 33 voted down an amendment by Senate President Wagle on the FY 2017 rescission bill to do a two percent across the board cut to all state agencies, including K-12. The Senate then passed the bill by a vote of 23 to 13. The House passed this rescission bill with no cuts to K-12 so that there is no issue of cuts that would be part of the conference committee on this bill should the House non-concur in the remaining Senate amendments.Read More
Legislative Report -March 10th, 2017
Legislators returned to Topeka this week fresh from their week-long turnaround break only to find their workload enhanced by last Friday’s Kansas Supreme Court decision in the Gannon case (Gannon IV). The current FY 2016 budget is still not resolved. While the House passed the rescission bill with no cuts to education or other state agencies, the Senate has yet to act. The failure of the Senate to override the Governor’s veto of the tax bill leaves us in a temporary stalemate with the question of which house is going to try next to put together a tax package that either makes it through the second floor without a veto or can muster the necessary two-thirds vote in both houses to override the Governor. It appears that the House may be the first to try again to put together the tax package that is needed to stabilize the FY 2018 and FY 2019 budgets. Once that issue is resolved we expect the legislature to direct its full attention to crafting the new school finance formula bill to meet the requirements of the Gannon IV decision.
Two important issues of concern to us appear to be resolved for this session: House Bill 2143 (procurement) and House Bill 2142 (unified school district employee health benefits program). Earlier this session, after the House K-12 Education Budget Committee held hearings and additional informationals on both of these issues Chairman Campbell asked Sarah Shipman, Secretary of Department of Administration, to form stakeholder working groups on both issues to see if agreement could be found on ways to implement any parts of these recommendations contained in the Governor’s budget proposal that were taken from the Alvarez and Marsel efficiency recommendations. Secretary Shipman issued her reports to the committee this week. In the report on House Bill 2143 (procurement) she listed several areas of stakeholder agreement that included: the goal of putting any savings into the classroom; there is already a lot of good cooperative work being done in the state; a need for better support systems for the smaller school districts lacking the capacity to do sourcing; and, the need for the process to be flexible. Areas of shareholder concern included: the mandate to purchase from a state contract even if it impaired a local district; the bill did not consider existing procurement procedures used by districts for price improvement; the political reality of the need to support local tax paying businesses who also support local school districts; and, that there were no incentives to drive participation. The working group recommended that consideration be given to creating an advisory board that would oversee cooperative purchasing within the state with representation from the state, USDs, and universities to identify and pursue specific sourcing categories. In addition, they suggested that an incentive plan be implemented where USDs that choose to participate in the sourcing efforts are awarded a percentage of the savings.
Secretary Shipman’s report on House Bill 2142 (employee health care) also listed areas of stakeholder agreement that included: health care costs are increasingly difficult to manage; a larger pool drives down administrative fees and vendor profits; significant changes are expected due to the Affordable Health Care Act; a more extensive study needs to be done; and, health insurance is a critical component of district compensation. Shared concerns included: impact consolidation would have on school staff and compensation issues; limited access to providers, particularly in rural areas; only two options exist in the State Employee Health Plan (SHEP); LPA data that may have amplified savings estimates; and, geographical differences. The shareholders recommended that detailed assessments of the current spend, plan design, networks, etc. across the districts be completed to better understand the impact of any plan consolidation across the districts. In addition, the state should evaluate changes to the current SHEP non-state offerings to attract more districts. Only two plans are offered now and the statutorily imposed employer contribution rate for family plans is higher than current contributions at most districts. Upon conclusion of the report and after committee questions Chairman Campbell announced that neither House Bill 2142 nor House Bill 2143 would be considered by his committee and that he would report to the House Appropriations Committee that the savings represented in the Governor’s budget by the passage of both bills would not be forthcoming. Governor Brownback used projected savings of $47 million in FY 2018 and $89 million in FY 2019 based upon the passage of both bills to fund his budget, money that will now have to be made up elsewhere.
The K-12 Education Budget Committee also held two other informative sessions during the week. The issue of at-risk funding was reviewed on Monday with Dale Dennis providing more detailed information about the state’s past decision to use USDA free lunch criteria as the basis for determining at-risk funding. Currently, the state pays about $2.49 million in matching funds to access the $189.2 million in federal funds for the free lunch program. The feds require the state to verify at least 3 percent of the income applications. He also reviewed the difficulties associated with obtaining correct income information from parents who may report only their net income and not the full amount and the legal restrictions school districts have on obtaining parent tax information. Scott Frank from the Legislative Division of Post Audit also reviewed prior audits related to the use of the free lunch proxy and the alternative use of the U. S. Census poverty count to determine the number of at-risk students. In general, he indicated that the census number tends to understate, particularly in rural areas, while free lunch tends to overstate. The census count also misses on foster care, non-traditional living arrangements and the fact that population changes after the count is taken. Chairman Campbell also sought a dialog on at-risk students from the perspective of urban and rural schools districts. John Allison, the current Superintendent, and Alicia Thompson, who will soon become the Superintendant appeared on behalf of Wichita Public Schools and described the many types of at-risk students they work with. Penny Hargrove, Superintendent, Hiawatha Schools, USD 415, an SQE member, reviewed with the committee her district’s experiences with the at-risk student population that continues to present major challenges because of the lack of resources. Students continue to arrive with serious problems that become harder to address when other community resources, such as mental health services, also lack the funds to help. Dr. Hargrove was asked by a committee member about what she would like to do if she had more resources. Dr. Hargrove responded by saying that she would first try to meet the needs of our students by determining where they are at and then provide services to help them grow in real time. Second, she would want to provide more extended programs so that they would become more engaged in school and find it more relevant to their lives. Finally, she felt it was important to work with the community to provide pre-Kindergarten services so that they will be ready when they enter Kindergarten. Chairman Campbell’s comments at the end of the hearing seemed to indicate that they would not change to the U. S Census for use as the at-risk proxy even though everyone understood that the free lunch proxy we now use is not perfect; however, with the interest shown by the Senate Education Committee on this issue other ideas will probably be discussed that may affect how the number of students who are at-risk will be determined for purposes of the new school finance formula.
On Tuesday the K-12 Education Budget Committee and the Senate Education Committee held a joint meeting that featured a presentation from Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas Commissioner of Education, on National Student Clearinghouse Data. Many members of the state board also in attendance and participated in a discussion with the committees. Commissioner Watson highlighted the fact that according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, by the year 2020, 71 percent of the jobs in Kansas will require some level of postsecondary education. He then pointed out that according to the National Student Clearinghouse related to the class of 2010 less than 65 percent enrolled in college the following year and that six years later less than 40 percent had graduated. Also, after the passage of six years almost one-fourth had never enrolled. Clearly, at the outset there is a gap between what we need and what we are producing. Commissioner Watson stated that the board’s long-range “KansasCan” vision for Kansas students targets the state’s post-secondary attainment rate through more individualized programming. This is important as the recent Gannon IV decision on adequacy and the Rose capacities points to the need to assure that all students are college or career ready upon graduation from high school. The legislators and board members proceeded to have a good discussion as to how they hope to work together to achieve these goals.
As expected, several legislative committees and caucuses received briefings on the Gannon decision in order to decipher what the ruling said in order to determine just where the legislature needs to go from here to assure that the schools stay open after June 30th. While some legislators argued that because the court did not specify a dollar amount they only need to provide for a constitutional formula it is safe to say that the majority understand that additional funding will be needed. There will no doubt be a lot of debate over the amount of dollars needed to meet the Gannon IV directive. Dale Dennis indicated that if we only adjusted the current BSAPP of $3,852 to $4,895 for inflation it would take an additional $700 million. One of the attorneys for the Gannon plaintiffs has a number in the $800 million range. The State Board is seeking $841 million over the next two fiscal years to fund their “KansasCan” vision. Clearly, we have a long way to go, but it is encouraging that on the House side the K-12 Education Budget Committee has been diligent in looking at all of the proposals put forth so far and seeking further clarity as it did this week on the at-risk proxy issue as picks up the pace to draft a constitutional finance formula. The second challenge is to determine the amount needed to constitutionally fund the formula. Senate President, Susan Wagle announced this week the appointment of The Select Committee on Education Finance that will be chaired by Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park with Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedwick as vice chair and Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka as the ranking minority member. The remaining committee members are Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg; Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills; Bud Estes, R-Dodge City; Dan Goddard, R-Parsons; Dan Kerschen, R-Garden Plain, and Pat Pettey, D-Kansas City.Read More
Legislative Report -February 24rd, 2017
The statehouse is quiet today after a tumultuous week that culminated in Wednesday’s vote by the House to override the Governor’s veto of House Bill 2178, the bill that would have repealed the so-called LLC income tax exemption. The House managed to have 85 (one more than the 84 two-thirds needed) of its members vote in favor of the motion. Later that day the Senate failed to reach its needed two-thirds or 27 votes to complete the override when it fell three votes short. Since then both the House Taxation Committee and the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee reported bills out of committee that would enact the Governor’s tax plan. In addition, the Senate tax committee also introduced a new bill, Senate Bill 215, that contains the same provisions as House Bill 2178, except that the rate increases and the creation of a third bracket would not become effective until January 1, 2018. This would remove the retroactivity argument used by a few Senators who cited this reason for why they did not join in the override. It is also important to note that the other funding issues related to the $320 million shortfall in the FY 17 budget are still not resolved. The House sent House Substitute for House Bill 2052, their rescission bill that does not contain cuts to K-12, and House Bill 2161, the bill that has the mechanism to capture $317 million from a PMIB investment fund, to the Senate last week. It is foreseeable that the Senate may demand some cuts in the rescission bill as a bargaining chip with the House in order to provide a veto proof number of votes on their new tax proposal. The work would then even become more complex as the budgets for FY 18 and FY 19 still have to be worked out and, even presuming a redesigned income tax bill passes, there are questions as to if it would provide enough revenue to stabilize the Kansas budget to avoid further cuts. All of this does not take into account the Supreme Court’s anticipated Gannon adequacy ruling.
House K-12 Education Budget Committee On House Bill 2270 submitted by Kelly Lampe, Superintendent, USD 459 Bucklin, a member of Schools for Quality Education
February 15, 2017
Chairman Campbell and members of the House K-12 Education Budget Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to provide written testimony on House bill 2270. We applaud this effort that appears to be a sound, visionary approach for a long term funding formula for our local public schools with the goal to support “equitable” state funding at an “adequate” level in order to allow every school district to meet the unique needs of our students, as required by the Rose standards adopted by our courts and the Kansas legislature. This legislation would help us create efficiencies through funding predictability, cost of living upgrades, and appropriate weightings to help assure the extra funding to provide for the additional needs of our students.Read More
Legislative Report -February 17th, 2017
A very busy week as the legislature got down to the business of putting a plan in motion to fill the $320 million budget shortfall for the 2017 fiscal year and begin the process of stabilizing the budget for future years. The Senate passed by a vote of 22-18 and sent to the Governor House Bill 2178, the income tax bill that would repeal the so-called LLC exemption, modify the existing rates, add a third top bracket, and allow 100 percent of medical expenses as a deduction. The House passed it the previous day by a vote of 76-48. While the Governor has stated that he will not sign the bill, there are hopes that he will allow it to become law without his signature. He has 10 days to veto the bill once it hits his desk or it will become law without his signature. The bill would raise $590.2 million for FY18 and $453.8 million for FY19, amounts still deemed inadequate by some for the long term, particularly if the much anticipated Supreme Court decision on the Gannon adequacy issue calls for more state support. Regardless. all agree this is a much needed start.