TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Kansas Lawmakers went back to work on Tuesday with school funding and covid-relief dollars sparking debate.
The Senate unanimously passed one part of House Bill 2313 – it extends the current state 20-mil property tax levy for schools.
However, some lawmakers have concerns about other parts of the bill, which they say could be costly and negatively effect public education funding.
The Senate went back and forth on Senate Substitute for House Bill 2313 – a bill providing COVID-19 refunds to certain businesses and continuing a statewide property tax levy for schools.
Republican Senator from Louisburg, Molly Baumgardner expressed that “the Senate spent a lot of time looking at getting some guard rails if you will, and some clear directives, as far as some high-density at-risk funds should be spent.”
Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes from Lenexa motioned to divide the bill into two parts.
Sen. Sykes supported the school funding, but said she has concerns about the other provisions, “we have over the whole session catered a lot to our businesses giving them tax credit tax benefit.”
“We haven’t had a clean bill on the 20 mills and I just think it’s important for those who support public education and want to be able to have a sustainable budget – to have that as a freestanding vote,” Sen. Sykes continued.
The other side of the Senate thinks otherwise.
“Because the funding formula is based on what attendance was last year, so even school districts that have lower attendance this year, next year when they’re figuring their formula, they will be able to pick whatever was from the three prior years – here’s the highest enrollment number” Sen. Baumgardner explained.
”So for some time, even though we saw significant changes in enrollment statewide, and as far as that reduction. School districts have still remained harmless and they have not had that reduction in funding,” Sen. Baumgardner added.
“We do not have an education bill at the point,” Sen. Sykes emphasized.
While Senators voted 35-0 on the school tax levy portion of the bill, the debate continued on the rest of the measure.
“Our budget right now, we are overspending what we’re bringing in by $326 million, so that is a serious concern. We have several bills can that we will be debating on the Senate floor today – giving more handouts to businesses when we have not have passed a sustainable fiscally responsible budget.”
Committees continue to work on budget bills providing the bulk of school funding.
As of late Tuesday night, the Senate was still in session over HB 2313. The bill would set aside nearly $1 billion of the state’s COVID-19 relief funds and another $1 billion earmarked for cities and counties to compensating small businesses.
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