Purchase photos

Legislators talk school finance

3/23/2014

By JUDY SHERARD

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Constituents had questions about several issues for legislators at Saturday morning's Eggs & Issues forum hosted by Hays Area Chamber of Commerce at Sternberg Museum of Natural History.

"This year, the main problem we have is the school finance," Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, said.

The first legislative proposal following a Kansas Supreme Court decision addressing school finance inequities included a charter school provision.

The issue of charter schools didn't come up in the education committee, said Rep. Sue Boldra, R-Hays, a member of the education committee.

"What we've seen ... is that if it doesn't pass in the education committee, it's not going to make it in the House," she said.

Charter schools "shouldn't have been involved in the bill," said Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, R-Palco.

The Legislature will "come back with the original proposal for school finance. That bill will be good for rural schools, I believe," he said.

None of the legislators support a tax increase to pay for the court mandates.

"There won't be any tax increases. It just won't happen," Ostmeyer said.

Couture-Lovelady agreed.

"We're seeing positive economic signs," Couture-Lovelady said.

Revenue from July to February was $128 million above estimates, he said.

"Between that and some of the other efficiencies ... I think we could do that without raising taxes very easily," he said.

Other issues on participants' minds were health care, funding for other social services and repealing the mortgage registration fee.

Some county officials are concerned about the bill that would phase out the fee.

Ostmeyer said the bill passed the Senate.

"There's a fairness issue there. It's a fair decision," he said.

This was the second of three Eggs & Issues forums for the legislative session. No date has been set yet for the third.