Quote of the Week: “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” - Abraham Lincoln

Education Bill Update

I wanted to give everyone an update on the education bill. On Saturday, the house stripped the contents of SB 423 and put in the contents of their bill HB 2445, with some minor adjustments. The house needed 63 votes to pass it, and it passed by a vote of 63-56. The Senate needed 21 votes to pass it, and it passed by a vote of 21-19. The Governor has said that he is going to be signing this bill into law.

For the house bill to have $230 million more in spending over the senate bill, I would have hoped for better results for our Southeast Kansas districts. The senate version had $10 million dollars to use state wide for mental health. The house version cut this dollar amount back and limited it to six school districts: Wichita, Topeka, Kansas City, Parsons, Garden City, and Central Kansas. Mental Health funding is important for all our school districts, not just for the 6 that were selected. The house bill also has a onetime ex-pense for the purchase of a database and computers for two school districts. While the final bill will add over $500 mil- lion more to our educational funding. It favors the urban high population areas of our state over our rural districts.

I have concerns that this new bill will not meet the equitable piece of our educational funding. That is why I voted against the concur motion, which would have sent it back to the House and Senate Education Committee.

The Facts of the Matter

Oops: Kansas lawmakers have $80M error to fix in school finance plan. Charts produced by KSDE show a difference of $79.7 million in general state aid between the approved and intended versions of Senate Bill 423. There will be a move to pass a “technical” correction when the Legislature returns on April 26.

The Kansas Constitution Has a Strict Even-Year Deadline for Legislative Sessions. Many may be wondering why Saturday night was so dramatic – the reason is embedded in our Kansas Constitution. Article 2, Section 8 of the Kansas Constitution says, “The duration of regular sessions held in even-numbered years shall not exceed ninety calendar days. Such sessions may be extended beyond ninety calendar days by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house.”

Gannon Case in Eighth Year. The Kansas education system has been subject to lawsuits for decades. Currently, the Gannon v. Kansas case has been active since November of 2010, casting a long shadow over the ability of the Kansas

Legislature to craft meaningful reforms to ensure every child in Kansas receives a suitable education.

ROZ Program

I submitted an amendment to add Crawford County to the state ROZ program. After an objection of germaneness by Senator Vicki Schmidt, it was ruled not germane. I worked with Senator Larry Alley from Cowley county to get the Kansas Income Tax waiver added.

After our initial effort wasn’t allowed an opportunity to be voted on, because of the objection of germaneness. We were able to get the tax income waiver portion added for Crawford and Cowley Counties. It now goes to the Senate and House Conference Committee.

http://www.kansascommerce.com/320/Rural-Opportunity-Zones

WEEKLY OVERVIEW:

This week was the last week of legislative activity before First Adjournment. Early Sunday morning, the Senate gaveled out for adjournment and will reconvene on April 26th for Veto Session. The Senate voted on numerous conference committee reports, a tax reform bill, and a school finance plan.

A conference committee is a small, bipartisan, and bicameral committee that works to smooth out the differences be- tween the House and Senate’s version of a similar bill. Once the conference committee reaches a compromise, the negotiated bill is sent to both the House and Senate for a final vote before advancing to the governor’s desk.

When the Senate gavels in on April 26, we will begin Veto Session and will wrap up any legislative loose ends for the year.

SCHOOL FINANCE:

In the early hours of Sunday morning and after a night of debate, the Senate voted to concur on a school finance plan that the House sent over earlier that day.

On Saturday morning, the House narrowly passed a school finance deal on a vote of 63-56. The House placed their original K-12 finance plan into a Senate bill and passed it to the Senate to either concur or non-concur on the deal.

The House’s plan would add $500 million to public school funding over the next five years. The funding plan almost doubles the cost of the Senate’s proposed plan that passed earlier that week. Some opponents of the bill believe the plan will make it difficult to earmark other priorities and require a possible tax increase.

The Senate voted 21-19 to concur, sending it to Governor Colyer’s desk for him to sign.

CLOSING STATEMENT

“It is hard to believe that the 2018 regular session is already behind us! With only eight days left until the 2018 session is complete, we still have a lot of work left to do.”

- Senator Richard Hilderbrand