On Friday a preliminary review of the WestEd K-12 school finance study, commissioned by the legislature, was presented to the Senate and House Education Committees. The study made clear that we have significantly underfunded schools in Kansas for the last 7-8 years. Had the state kept up with the K-12 funding level that the legislature set back in 2005 to comply with Montoy, the previous school finance lawsuit, we would be approximately at the same funding level that the new study suggests we should be at. It is also important to remember that the estimates in the WestEd Study do not include the following K-12 expenses: transportation, food service, construction, debt service, fund transfer, and adult education. Additional funds will need to be budgeted for those items. A link to the full report is included below.
It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and appreciate your input on issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 452-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at (785) 296-7430 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. You can also e-mail me.
Education Report Released
The out-of-state expert witness hired by Republican Leadership in the Gannon school finance case submitted her finalized report Friday, March 16. Lori Taylor, from Texas, has been conducting a study on school finance in Kansas. Her conclusions will be used by the legislature to formulate a new school funding dollar amount that will satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court’s requirements.
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in October of last year that the amount of dollars appropriated to school funding in the legislature’s 2017 school finance bill was neither adequate or equitable. The Court set a deadline of April 30, 2018, for a new bill from the legislature, to be ruled upon June 30, 2018.
Attempt at Medicaid Expansion in the House
On Wednesday, the House Democratic Leader offered an amendment on SB 335 to expand Medicaid. There were several pieces of language in the legislation that would render the amendment germane; however, the Rules Committee found the amendment to be nongermane. To be found nongermane means that the amendment cannot be attached to the underlying bill.
The ruling was challenged by the House Leader; a ruling challenge allows the entire body a vote to either uphold the ruling or overrule it. The ruling was sustained in a 77-45 vote. Kansans overwhelmingly support the expansion of Medicaid, which would cover 150,000 people who are currently without insurance in our state. Kansas has refused millions in federal dollars for expansion – tax dollars that Kansans pay into the system.
Last year, the House and Senate both passed a Medicaid expansion amendment, which was swiftly vetoed by then-Governor Sam Brownback. The House came just a few votes shy of overriding that veto. Kansas House Democrats will continue to fight for expansion and for the people who need it most.
National Walkout Day
Wednesday, March 14th marked one month since the school shooting in Florida. Students across Kansas and the nation organized a National Walkout, during which students walked out of school for 17 minutes in solidarity with Florida and in protest. These students’ energy and commitment to the cause and to bringing commonsense gun legislation to the table is not only admirable, but also having an impact all over the country.
All across Kansas, hundreds upon hundreds of students participated in the walkout. Those in Topeka flocked to the Capitol, joining the Moms Demand Action rally on the South steps.
This Week on the House Floor
This week, the House worked and passed the following bills on the floor:
HB 2541: Enacts the Statewide Broadband Deployment Authorization Act.
HB 2516: Creates a law providing immunity from civil liability for damage to a motor vehicle for a person who enters the vehicle, by force or otherwise, to remove a vulnerable person or domestic animal.
HB 2527: Creates the crime of knowingly selling, purchasing, installing, transferring, manufacturing, creating, designing, updating, repairing, using, or possessing automated sales suppression devices.
SB 335: Incorporates savings and loan associations and savings banks into the State Banking Code. The bill would repeal the existing Savings and Loan Code.
HB 2232: Allows a resident of an adult care home, or a resident’s guardian or legal representative, to conduct authorized electronic monitoring in the resident’s room subject to requirements.
HB 2749: Renews existing sales tax authority for Jackson County to impose, subject to voter approval, a countywide sales tax of 0.4 percent to finance public infrastructure projects.
HB 2489: Clarifies the Multistate Tax Compact under Kansas statutory provisions relative to the definition of business income for corporation income tax purposes.
SB 275: Amends provisions in law relating to the expulsion of credit union members and the terms of service for members of the Credit Union Council