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Thank you for your input. +3 Vote up Vote down sore loser · 272 weeks ago The school funding propoganda is indeed confusing, especially to the elderly and those who arent inclined to make the extra effort of learning the details that Mr Trimmer has described in this article. And i imagine thats the purpose of such propoganda. But the obvious consequences of Brownbacks school funding strategy are plain and simple: schools closing early, schools closing altogether, reduction in staff, cutting music education, etc, etc, etc. Report Reply 0 replies · active 272 weeks ago -9 Vote up Vote down credence · 272 weeks ago When does the school funding issue become enough? Every year we hear the same song and dance about how the public schools are under funded, but we rarely hear of any efforts to control spending, like reducing the number of administrators, merging districts or looking at capital outlay spending. The answer is always the same – give us more money without any strings attached or accounting for how the money is spent. Report Reply 1 reply · active 272 weeks ago -2 Vote up Vote down sore loser · 272 weeks ago So maybe we should lay off the vice principal at your child’s school, then merge your child’s school with one thats 30 miles away from home? You do have a child in public school dont you? Report Reply Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Ed Trimmerby Ed Trimmer, State Representative, District 79 — The Kansas Legislature re-convened for the wrap-up session on Wednesday, April 30th. On Friday, May 16th, the 2015 session reached its 90-day limit without a budget and with at least a $420 million deficit. It is now costing taxpayers an extra $43,000 dollars a day for an extended session with no real end in sight.LEGISLATIVE PAYWhile I accept the pay for the extended session, I have always contributed the additional salary to the high school student councils in my district. This has included Leon Bluestem, Burden Central, Oxford, Belle Plaine, Udall and Winfield.During campaigns, I have been accused of doing this for political reasons, and accused of giving myself a bonus for not refusing the pay. First of all, I do not turn the contributions into a photo-op nor do I ask for any recognition beyond simply letting my constituents know that I do not keep this additional salary for myself. I prefer to give the money to our local schools than give it back to the State.Secondly, I do not control the schedule nor do I make the decision to go into an extended session. That $43,000-a-day decision belongs to the Republican super-majority. Had the Republican leadership listened to those of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, who warned of the problems with the 2012 and 2013 tax plans, I am confident we would not still be in Topeka trying to find a way to make the Governor’s failed economic experiment work.ELECTION BILLSVoter FraudOn Wednesday, May 20th, a Senate elections bill was debated in the House and narrowly passed. I voted NO, because the bill gives the Secretary of State independent prosecutorial power in regard to voter fraud. Currently, local district or county attorneys have the power to prosecute voter fraud. The Attorney General can participate, if asked by the local prosecutor for assistance. Secretary Kobach argued that he should have independent power to prosecute because other agencies, such as the Securities Commission, have that power, but that is inaccurate. As it is with the Attorney General, the Securities Commission can assist local prosecutors, but they do not have independent power to initiate prosecution. Giving this power to the Secretary of State would not only create a duplication of powers but it would create confusion in regard to who has the authority to initiate prosecution. It also removes local control.To justify his position, the Secretary of State argued in the Elections Committee that there were 231 examples of voter fraud, which is also inaccurate. Later, he amended that number to 18, all of which were dealt with by local prosecutors and none of which involved undocumented citizens. The job of the Secretary of State is to make sure our elections are run fairly. I believe it is dangerous to give this prosecutorial power to an individual who has already brought into question his fairness by forming a political action committee that he uses to fund candidates in primary and general elections who agree with his political ideology.A second part of the bill allows groups or business to give a financial incentive to people if they go to the polls and vote. To me, this is bribery and should never be allowed. It is the responsibility of citizens to vote and they should not be paid to do so.The bill does increase the penalty for voter fraud, but many of the 18 documented cases, cited by the Secretary Kobach, were merely people who forgot they voted by mail and then went to the polls. A good many of them were elderly. I would hate to think the Secretary of State might try to charge these people with a felony just to justify the use of his new power.Fall ElectionsAnother bill, to move spring elections to the fall of odd numbered years, was passed by yet another narrow margin last Thursday, May 21st. I again voted NO, because most of the school boards and city commissions in my district passed resolutions indicating they did not want the change. They argued that it is important to elect people in the spring so they can participate in the budget building process and then be on board for approving the budget for the next fiscal year. This cannot happen with a fall election.The argument used to justify the bill was that it could improve voter turnout, which is low in the spring. It remains to be seen whether voter turnout will improve. Just because more people turn out for federal or state elections in the fall of even years, it doesn’t mean they will be any more likely to vote in school or county elections in the fall of odd years. Many legislators, myself included, believe that, if the goal is really to increase voter turnout, it would be better to simply use a mail ballot or move the elections to Saturdays. Both of these changes would help working people vote, but received no serious consideration.Tax PlansThere have been a few tax plans passed out of the House Tax Committee. The problem with these ideas, is that none of the proposals create enough revenue to solve our deficit. They are merely political tactics to gauge where the votes are. Many of the House members promoting these plans, as well as the Governor, seem to want to raise sales taxes, raise consumption taxes, and increase fees. They have also proposed eliminating deductions for medical expenses and proposed cutting deductions for home mortgage interest in half. This approach just makes our tax structure more unfair than it already is. It places the burden of solving our deficit on the backs of working people. I can’t help but note that a large number of legislators who favor these taxes, own businesses and pay no income tax, while their employees do. I do not plan to vote for piecemeal approaches, which may or may not be a part of a larger final package. When we get a real comprehensive tax package, I will consider its merits.State BudgetCurrently, there are no budget proposals that have made their way to the House floor. Initially, it looked like there would be a budget proposal first and then a move to pressure the legislature to find a way to fund it. It appears now that we will return to the more rational practice of establishing a revenue package and then a budget. It is still questionable whether we will raise enough revenue to fund programs or whether further cuts will need to be made. If cuts take place, there is no doubt that public education will have to be a part of those cuts as well as cuts to programs for seniors, veterans, the Department of Corrections and transportation, just to name a few. The end result would be even further reductions in school operating budgets, more unemployment, fewer people serving their full terms in prison, more cuts to senior meals programs, and reductions in funding to the Winfield Veterans Home.School FundingThe propaganda mill is in overdrive regarding school funding. The Kansas Policy Institute, an advocacy group that poses as a research entity but will not reveal their funding sources, has produced a misleading ad campaign. In it they state that public schools have received $142 million more state dollars during the 2014-15 school year than they received during the 2013-14 school year. This is true but only half the story.The $142 million came from court ordered equalization of the Local Option Budget (LOB) for schools. Since most schools were at the maximum of 30% for LOB they could not use the money in the classroom but had to reduce property taxes instead. So while the state contributed more money, local tax contributions to the schools decreased and schools had no more money to spend. This spring, the Governor cut $53 million in aid to public schools so almost all public schools in Kansas lost even more money they might have used for the classroom. The Block Grant Funding formula, that was passed this year and will affect schools for the next two-years, changed the calculation for LOB again so most schools lost additional funds. The bottom line is that, while the state contribution to schools went up about $90 million for this year and the next three years compared to 2013-14, schools actually lost budget authority and have less to spend. The only upside is that the court-ordered change forced the state to stop pushing funding for education to local property taxes, but it did not put more money into the classroom.Final End of the SessionNo one in Topeka really knows when the session will finally end. Unless things start moving more quickly, it looks like the session could go into June. I hope that is not the case. Since we returned from the April break, we have spent no more than three to four hours on the floor each day. Most days the time is even less. As we enter the last week of May, we are still waiting on the Tax and Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate to provide any real direction and move us closer to ending the session. It won’t be easy. The Governor’s economic experiment has failed and hard choices must now be made.Follow us on Twitter.last_img

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