Under the Dome - March 27, 2012
Morning action in the House
The Kansas House this morning dealt with two education-related bills.
The first bill was HB 2745 which would restrict spending on remedial classes in Regents institutions. Some legislators argue that the need for remedial classes –often in preparation for college algebra –demonstrate that high schools are not preparing our students for college work. To that end, they wanted to stop remedial classes from being offered. Under their logic, if you need a remedial class, you’re not college material.
The bill would prohibit State General Fund dollars from being used for remedial courses at state universities, but would not prohibit the courses from being provided with funding from other sources.
Also, the bill would reduce both the number of freshman class admissions or resident transfer admissions to the state universities allowed as exceptions to the minimum admissions standards from 10.0 percent to 5.0 percent.
The debate centered on reasons why some students need remedial classes. For example, there are many non-traditional students. Some of these students may have spent several years after high school working or raising a child before returning to pursue a higher education. This bill will harm their chances to be successful.
The only exception House members chose to make was for military personnel. Military personnel returning from duty are treated differently under the bill. It’s too bad that young mothers or persons who had to work to save money for college can’t get the same recognition.
Remedial courses will likely continue but they will have to be paid for out of other resources.
The bill was passed on final action on a vote of 68 to 55.
The second bill was a resolution –House Concurrent Resolution 5006. This is an idea that has been debated since the school finance battles of 2005-2006 in the wake of the Montoy decision. Essentially it would put a constitutional amendment up for a vote of the people that would prohibit the Courts or the Administration from making appropriations. The argument is that only the Legislature can appropriate money. Most people agree that this distinction is already in the constitution.
The proponents assert that the Supreme Court in Montoy “appropriated”money when they told the legislature to fund schools according to the legislature’s own finance study. In truth the Court pointed to the legislature’s study, told that legislature that their own study supported the plaintiffs in the case and then, when the legislature failed to act, suggested the schools could be shut down since the system was declared unconstitutional.
The legislature then appropriated the money.
The resolution was advanced to final action on a vote of 91 to 31.
The budget conference committee (House Appropriations & Senate Ways and Means) has met six times, exchanging offers and making slow progress reconciling their budget recommendations.
The tax conference committee heard an overview of the two big income tax bills (House sub for SB 177 and Senate sub for SB 2117) after looking at the list of bills in the House and Senate (passed only one chamber) as well as the conference committee (passed both chambers in different forms). They will meet again tomorrow at 3:00.
The KPERS conference committee met but did not deal with any bills on revisions to the KPERS system or working after retirement.
The education conference committee met to review bills in committee.
Conference Committees will be meeting through the rest of this week as the Legislature moves toward their end day –March 31. Conference Committees meet on the call of the chair so no daily calendar is available as there is for standing committees. You must listen for announcements and tie yourself in to a network of like-minded individuals who thankfully make a habit of communicating with each other.