Latest News‎ > ‎

Legislative Update

posted Feb 3, 2015, 10:05 AM by Martie Helm   [ updated Feb 3, 2015, 1:22 PM by website team ]

The legislative session is well underway.  The biggest challenge of the current legislative session is dealing with what was thought to be a $279 million shortfall for the current year and $649 million next year.  This past week, January revenues came in $47.2 million under estimates which make the challenge even greater with a shortfall of $326 million for the current year and rapidly approaching the $700 million mark for FY16 and there are still three months remaining before the consensus revenue estimate group meets again in April!  The Governor’s original plan to address the shortfall in revenue for the current school year essentially kept school funding for this year the same.  This included “funding” approximately $34 million in unexpected school funding for local option budget equalization aid.  The proposal did delay a KPERS payment of approximately $40 million.  There were other transfers and reductions in non-education areas that the Governor proposed in covering the shortfall.  In recent days, the Governor’s staff and legislature have moved away from these original recommendations in terms of keeping school funding the same for the current year.  Currently the legislature is considering several bills to address the revenue shortfall and they have a substantial impact on funding in USD #386 not only for FY16, but for the current school year.   

·         Senate Bill 71 would reduce funding to most school districts and result in a net loss of $39.1 million in the current budget year, according to early KSDE estimates.  For USD #386, this would amount to a loss in funding of $30,957 for the current school year. 

·         HB 2133 would fund General State Aid reflected in the Governor’s Budget proposal, but would not include LOB supplemental aid. Rather, the committee is saying it would look at the LOB aid of $34 million in its “mega” budget bill later this session. The bill also called for Capital Outlay Aid to be delayed until the end of June; however, an amendment offered by Rep. Amanda Grosserode (R-Lenexa) would require $25 million to be paid in February and the additional $20 million that was not anticipated by the state to be delayed until June 20.

·         SB 81 also does not include the $34 million LOB aid, with the Senate Ways and Means Committee also saying it plans to include it in their “mega” budget bill. This bill would delay the full $45 million Capital Outlay Aid payment to June 15.

In response to what appears to be legislatures seeking to cut equalization aid to schools, the Schools for Fair Funding has filed a new motion with the Supreme Court.  The motion asks the court to reopen the equity portion of the Gannon school finance lawsuit, on which the Supreme Court issued a ruling last year.

In their statement, SFFF said:
“In response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s March [2014] decision, the Kansas Legislature adopted State’s Senate Substitute for House Bill 2506, purportedly restoring approximately $129 million in funding to Kansas schools. Now, the State has revealed it is approximately $63 million short of fully funding equalization aid for FY 15. As seems to happen all too frequently in school finance litigation, the Legislature once again adopted legislation that would allow it to meet its constitutional obligations, but then chose to fund that legislation at unconstitutional levels.”

 Other Bills

 There are a couple of other bills currently being considered. 

·        The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee has created a bill designed to prohibit Kansas schools from linking to Common Core Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. On July 1, SB 67 would require schools to revert back to standards used prior to 2010. The bill also has negative implications for Advanced Placement courses.  This bill would also have a substantial impact on the ESEA waiver and state assessments.  It would take us back to the days of NLCB. 

·         There has been some discussion regarding moving school board elections from the spring to the fall.  Additional discussions include making school board elections partisan and having all candidates run At-Large.  Despite any benefits to voter turnout, partisan politics should be avoided when it comes to operating schools.  In addition, federal law prohibits most federal employees in the executive branch and military from participating in many partisan activities, including running for office in partisan elections.  Therefore, such individuals would be unable to run for school board and other local offices if the law was changed. 

Lobbyists forwarding new PNA agreement (by Dodie Wellshear, Gov Relations Consultant USA)

Four education organizations – USA|Kansas, KSSA, KNEA and KASB – have reached an agreement on proposed changes to the Professional Negotiations Act. This agreement comes after more than a year of targeted discussions by leaders of the four groups.

According to the announcement, “The recently approved agreement would require that professional negotiations regarding compensation, including salary and wages, supplemental contracts salaries and overtime remain mandatory negotiation items. Each side in the negotiations process would then choose five additional items from the current list of mandatory items.”

Lobbyists for the groups have been charged with generating a legislative strategy to advance legislation reflecting the agreement in the 2015 session. This past week, the lobbyists met with Rep. Marvin Kleeb (R-Overland Park) and briefed him on the proposed legislation. Two years ago, Rep. Kleeb, who then chaired the House Commerce Committee, urged the four organizations to try and come to an agreement and bring it back to the legislature. The new agreement, as outlined, was met very favorably by him.  A briefing was also held with Senate minority leader, Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka), who has asked the Legislative Revisor’s Office to prepare an actual bill for introduction.  A Monday meeting has been scheduled with the new House Education Committee chairman, Rep. Ron Highland (R-Wamego), to discuss the proposal with him. Further meetings with other legislative leaders will follow that.  The meeting with Rep. Highland is especially critical as he has scheduled a hearing on another PNA bill, 
HB 2034, which was recommended in a minority report of the K-12 Performance and Efficiency Commission.  HB2034 greatly limits teacher bargaining rights.  HB 2034 will be opposed by all four of the education organizations involved in the agreement, as will any other bill other than that recommended by the groups. This decision was made as part of the agreement between the four organizations.