Education

Lawmakers in Kansas May Completely Rewrite School Funding. Again.

The ongoing conservative economic laboratory experiment that is Kansas continues.

As you may recall, there was a possibility that public schools in Kansas would be shut down next month unless the state legislature appropriates more funding for disadvantaged and poor school systems.

I hesitate to call it good news, considering everything the state's school systems have been through, but the legislature did approve a funding measure during a special session that boosts funding by a meager $38 million dollars.

Obviously, that's not going to last very long. A bigger fight looms ahead and given some of the statements made recently by state lawmakers, this could be even uglier.

After the state government was originally ordered to increase funding for poor school districts in early 2015, the legislature responded by converting the state's school funding program into a block-grant system which cut funding for some districts in the middle of the school year, leading to early closures for some schools.

A little over a year later, the legislature is considering abandoning the block-grant system and devising a whole new system for funding public education.

"We need to get some permanent structure in school finance," said state Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, a conservative Nickerson Republican.

Drafting a new funding formula ratchets up regional tensions, as lawmakers from different areas scramble to prevent their schools from seeing their aid redistributed elsewhere. [...]

Educators across the state argue that regional tensions would ease if Kansas increased its overall spending on schools. But Brownback, who blames the state's ongoing fiscal woes on larger regional and national economic issues, said the budget will remain "very tight."

The "regional tensions" the Associated Press refers to include, among other things, lawmakers complaining earlier this month that taxpayer money from their districts may be redistributed to fund education in another part of the state. More specifically, a group of Republican senators in Johnson County complained about their taxpayer dollars being used to fund schools in Wichita which is home to districts that sued the state for more funding.

Some Republicans have actually called for finding new sources of revenue, which is another way of calling for tax hikes, but Governor Sam Brownback is having none of that.

Brownback may blame "regional and national" economic issues for the state's budget woes, but the Grand Conservative Norquist-ian Experiment of Kansas is a clear outlier that most of the nation can point to as a lesson in failure. That is not the say the status quo is necessarily preferable in other states controlled by Republicans but, with the exception of Louisiana, Kansas stands out among the rest.

It's hard to imagine anything other than a train-wreck happening every fiscal year until Brownback leaves office.

  • Badgerite

    Apparently, Kansas has been borrowing heavily from its transportation fund so besides their school system being in trouble, apparently their road system is next on the list of slated for destruction. Or drowning in a bath tub.

  • muselet

    It is truly amazing that Kansas Rs can come up with yet more ways to screw over their state’s schoolkids, but that’s what they’re looking to do.

    As the cheesy bumper sticker says, “Friends don’t let friends vote Republican.”

    –alopecia

    • I can’t imagine being a parent in Kansas. I would be infuriated that my kids are being so underserved. K-12 education is absolutely crucial to future success in life and they’re really f*cking a whole generation.

  • Badgerite

    Grover Norquist’s grand theory of government-bath-tub-drowning is simply a policy that refuses to invest in America. Ever. Not its people. Not its infrastructure. And not its future. There is no real progress of any kind and no real societal cohesion under such a policy. It is un American. The American idea has always been about more than the present. It has always been about the future. The United States Constitution was crafted by a forward looking people.

    • Draxiar

      And yet we’re constantly told that Kansas is in the heart of “Real America”.

  • Republicans! Boldly leading us back to the Dark Ages!
    Stupid gits.