Brownback signs HB2506
Special to The Hays Daily News
TOPEKA – Gov. Sam Brownback today signed HB2506 in relation to funding for education throughout the state.
The governor, joined by Senate President Susan Wagle, House Speaker Ray Merrick and other legislators, signed into law a bill passed by the Legislature on April 6.
“This bill fully addresses the equity issue addressed in the Gannon court decision. Most important, it puts money in the classroom to benefit students and teachers and provides property tax relief for Kansans,” Brownback said. “It makes strategic investments in our institutions of higher education, recognizing the important role they play in creating our next generation of Kansas teachers, doctors, business people and community leaders.”
The bill provides $126 million to correct the equity issue for Kansas schools. The bill directs money to the classrooms to benefit teachers and students, and provides tax relief for property owners across the state.
“HB2506 contains good strong education reform in Kansas,” Brownback said. “It supports expansion of innovative school districts, alternate certification to allow experts in science, technology, engineering, math and finance and accounting to teach our high school students. And it provides bonuses to teachers who attain national certification.”
Passage and signature of the bill also ensures there will not be an interruption in funding or local option budget authority that would have required layoff notices to be sent to teachers and administrators across the state, according to Brownback's office — although some teachers in Hays USD 489 already have been given notice their contracts will not be renewed after this year.
"The school finance bill signed today by the governor appears to meet the Kansas Supreme Court's equity mandate,” John Robb, general counsel for Schools for Fair Funding, said in a press release. “That portion of the suit was successful, and the less wealthy districts and taxpayers in the state will see great benefits.
“The law, however, is not a clean bill and creates mixed results. Unfortunately, the bill also contains unnecessary policy items that don't benefit public-school students. These include corporate vouchers for private schools, expansion of local property taxes, at-risk student funding cuts and the unfortunate due-process repeal. These portions of the bill are not only unnecessary but hurtful to taxpayers, kids and teachers.
“Now it's time to finish the job, as directed by the Supreme Court, and address whether the state is adequately funding the schools. I am confident that the court will find that the state has not met this obligation."
Democrats in the state disagreed with Brownback's assessment the bill funds schools properly.
"Gov. Brownback's signing of the school funding bill today is his latest attempt to deceive Kansans into believing that education is his top priority,” Joan Wagnon, Kansas Democratic Party chairwoman, said in a press release. “His television ads would have you believe he is a strong education advocate, yet Brownback chose today to stand with extreme special interests over Kansas students, parents and teachers. The bill he signed — now his bill — eliminated due process for Kansas teachers. With his signature, he stripped money from at-risk students. And he undermined public schools by creating corporate tax breaks for private school scholarships."
"Gov. Brownback and his far-right Legislature have never made education a priority. That's why Brownback made the biggest cut to education in state history to fund tax breaks that hurt our schools. That's why it took 3.5 years and a constitutional order before Brownback even acknowledged the problems facing our schools. And that's why the bill the governor signed today is weighted down with unneeded special interest policies that harm our schools and may not even satisfy the court's mandate."
“This bill returns control to the local school districts and communities,” she said. “These reforms will benefit Kansas students. We have good schools in Kansas, and this will make them even stronger.”
“The two goals of HB 2506 are to ensure equity in funding across school districts in Kansas and improve student outcomes,” Merrick said. “In the process, we were able to put more money into the classroom and provide $78 million in property tax relief.”
The governor received the bill April 14. He had 10 days from the time it was received to sign, veto or allow a bill to become law without his signature.