SB 360 School Funding
Madame Chair, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today in support of Senate Bill 350.
You have been examining two school finance plans this week. One would dramatically overhaul the school finance formula and turn responsibility over to local communities for future funding increases. This plan institutionalizes the cuts that have been made to school funding as a result of the budget difficulties the Legislature has had to address in 2008.
The second plan preserves the current formula and sets in motion a series of funding increases intended to restore the cuts.
We believe the second proposal – that in Senate Bill 350 – is the better way to go.
We base this belief on the fundamental principle that responsibility for school funding rests primarily with the state and that local communities should be active partners in providing for excellent schools. We believe in a formula that takes into account student needs and local ability to raise funds. The current formula does that through weightings and equalization formulas.
There are some who believe the formula should be changed simply because it is old. The formula as it was amended in 2005-06 was considered changed enough by the Supreme Court to cause the finance lawsuit to be dismissed.
There are some who believe the formula is broken. We would suggest that the legislature made significant improvements to the formula in 2005-06. The formula is not broken; it is not appropriately funded. While the Legislature had put in place a series of funding increases to meet the needs identified by its cost studies, the state has unfortunately rescinded those increases in response to the recession and loss of state revenue.
The correct response in our view is to return to the formula of 2005-06 and restore the cuts made over the last few years. We believe that if you do, the formula will work.
I can’t say that Senate Bill 350 is perfect. It will take years to restore the cuts and bring school funding back to the levels called for the in the Legislative cost studies. But Senate Bill 350 is a responsible approach to moving Kansas back to the intent of the 2006 Legislature.
We urge this committee to approve Senate Bill 350.