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Immediate calls are needed on Senate bills. These bills passed out of their respective Senate committees today and are being rushed to a vote, probably Thursday. This is complicated by the fact that the Senate has linked its action in three bills, a “cuts” bill, a “borrowing” bill and an “income tax increase” bill.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee this morning passed out a rescission bill and a companion measure that are projected to virtually eliminate the current fiscal year deficit which is between $330 million and $350 million. The combination of the Rescission Bill and the Pooled Money Investment Borrowing bill would produce a total of about $343 million for the current fiscal year, enough to meet the projected shortfall and produce an ending balance of as much as $75 million. However, there are critical problems with these bills.

Rescission bill.

This is the “cuts” bill. The rescission bill cuts K-12 funding for the current fiscal year by 5%, or about $128 million; higher education by 3%, or about $23 million, and picks up another $3 million in small cuts from a wide variety of agencies. The bill also delays repayment of KPERS for state money borrowed last year, worth maybe $90 million in savings this year.

This is the Senate’s attempt to balance the current year budget due to inadequate revenues. It violates the promise by the legislature when it abolished the school finance formula that the block grant funding, although reduced, would be protected and would not be cut. Kansans overwhelmingly support funding for the schools and do not support these cuts. We would urge that the Rescission Bill be opposed for this reason.

Pooled Money Investment borrowing bill.

This is the “borrowing” bill. A companion proposal would borrow $100 million this fiscal year in state idle funds managed by the Pooled Money Investment Board for repayment over four years.

The Pooled Money Investment borrowing bill is yet another one-time funding trick. While we abhor the one-time gimmicks that have backfilled the budgets since the income tax cuts in 2012, at this late point in the year, the only solution is to once again use a one-time source of funds rather than cut the schools. The problem with this bill is that it does not go far enough. There are adequate funds in the Pooled Money Investment Fund to backfill the budget without cuts to the schools. The amount of the borrowing needs to increase until they can fix the revenue stream with adjustments to taxes.

The income tax bill.

This is the “income tax increase” bill. A Senate committee also forwarded to the entire senate an increased income tax plan. It eliminates the so-called LLC exemption and modestly raises all income tax rates. The problem is that it does not go far enough in raising revenue. This revenue package does NOT fix the structural imbalance of revenues not meeting expenses. The only way it happens to work is when it is linked to the 5% school cuts and borrowing bills above. IT DOES NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM. Future budgets will STILL be out of balance with inadequate revenues to support the state. Insist on a solution that is actually a solution, not a band-aid.

Please oppose all three of these bills and send them back to committee.

Please call your legislators.  You can find their contact information HERE.

Tell them this:

This trio of bills is unacceptable and does not fix the state’s structural budget deficit.

  1. Please fix the state budget problem without cutting K-12 education.
  1. While distasteful, please borrow more from the Pooled Money Investment Fund to get out of the current budget year. It is distasteful, but does not hurt kids.
  1. No one wants their taxes to go up, but it will be necessary to raise funds to balance our state budget. Otherwise budget problems are going to just continue into future years.

Please vote no on these bills. There is time to craft a responsible plan. They can and must do better.

Please do all that you can to get in touch with your legislator(s) this evening and tomorrow. An entire generation of Kansas kids are counting on you!!