More calls and contacts are needed NOW. Sometimes a bad idea just never dies. Cutting school funding this year is one of them. This is called the “rescission bill” because it rescinds current funding. The original plan was to cut schools 5% yet this year. Thanks to your efforts, this idea met with such a firestorm of opposition that Senate President Susan Wagle did not even bring the bill to the floor. But… bad ideas apparently never die.
We are hearing that Senator Wagle will bring the Rescission Bill to the floor on Wednesday and that it now contains a 2% to 2½% cut to the schools yet this year. A 2½% cut is about $64M.
The supreme court has just mandated that we ADD money to schools, not take it away. Now is the time to call your senator and explain why cutting funding at any level is a bad idea.
1) When the block grant bill was passed, the schools were promised this would be stable funding and not subject to cuts. Cutting the schools now breaks that promise.
2) Any cuts to schools are very late in the year. Schools will have to take steps to make these cuts immediately and cannot wait for a later bill that may restore some of the cuts next year. These are cuts in this year’s budget. Any money in school balances is there for a good reason. It is certainly not “extra money.” (Ask the highway fund folks if that was “extra money.”)
3) Leadership argument: Everyone should share the pain in hard times. Not so fast… Our forefathers thought so dearly about our schools that they gave our schools priority in the Kansas Constitution. School funding is NOT optional. THE SCHOOLS MUST BE FUNDED ACCORDING TO OUR CONSTITUTION.
4) This budget crisis is a self-inflicted wound. There are other more reasonable ways to balance this year’s budget which doesn’t hurt kids. The budget crisis was caused by an overzealous tax cut plan which persists. While it may be too late in the year to fix the current budget problem with new taxes, there are other avenues open to patching the budget until they can raise revenues through a responsible tax increase. The Pooled Money Investment Fund is the most likely answer. It is essentially the state “savings account.” It is large enough to cover the deficit. It is feasible to borrow from this fund to get out of this year rather than cut our schools. While none of us like another one-time fix, those in power have waited soooo long to address the matter this year that there are no other responsible choices.
5) Leadership argument: We must cut now, but will put the money back in a new formula. Schools have heard this promise before. They delayed a payment to KPERS last year, stating that the payment would be made later. That payment has now been kicked down the road for years. It may never be made.
6) Leadership argument: We must put some “blood on the table” in the form of cuts to the schools to get others to vote for tax increases. This very question shows the cynicism in Topeka. Said another way… The kids do not really matter in all of this, we must cut their educations to “play the game.” Reject this game playing. It is our kids “blood” on the table.
7) The Kansas Supreme Court has just found that our schools are unconstitutionally underfunded. It is not logical to cut the schools further in the face of this mandate to increase school funding.
8) Everybody has to compromise. No, this is not the case. We prioritize things in our lives every day. The electric company does not compromise on the monthly electric bill, the gas station does not compromise on the cost of a gallon of gas and the schools, which are protected by a constitutional mandate, should not compromise their funding. Constitutional rights are not to be compromised away in political games.
9) The schools were FIRST in line for the cuts in 2009. Remind your legislators that the base was reduced from $4433 to $3780 from 2009-11. This was a $653 per pupil cut or 14.7% cut. The courts have since (last week!) found theses funding levels to be unconstitutionally low. Cutting additional funding now will only make matters worse when it comes to complying with the court order. Please recall that when legislators were put in an economic bind in 2009, they told you that schools were the only choice for cuts and that they would restore the cuts ASAP. Rather than restore your cuts, they cut taxes in 2012. They are now saying they will cut today and restore the cuts in a new formula. They used up their “trust us” line in 2012. Suggest they do the new formula with the additional money FIRST.
10) Not one of these senators told voters that they were headed to Topeka to cut the schools.
Find your senator’s contact information: Senate Roster