December 5, 2023

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Is Kansas PTA Endorsing Brownback Budget Proposal?

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The Kansas PTA issued an action alert asking its members to call their Senators in support of an initiative in Gov. Brownback’s budget proposal. PTA members are asked to request that legislators consider using the pooled money investment fund (PMIB) to backfill a budget gap this year.

The PTA alert says Kansas K-12 schools were cut by 15 percent since 2008. However, the state sent $3.1 billion in state aid to K-12 education in 2008, and this year, the state is set to spend $3.9 billion in state aid to K-12 education.  That figure doesn’t include federal and local funding.

Brownback’s budget proposal uses $317 million from the PMIB to resolve this year’s shortfall. The state would repay the fund over the course of seven years. State Senators and editorialists have little stomach for using the fund, which invests state idle funds long term.

Here’s Sen. Carolyn McGinn, the chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee: “It looks to me like we’re taking a pay day loan. We are borrowing against ourselves.”

Here is Wichita State University professor H. Edward Flentje in an opinion column: “My message to Republican legislators: Shed the toxic Brownback brand of unbalanced budgets, unfair taxes and historic debt. Slam the door on the governor’s one-time fixes. Repair state finances and balance the budget without more debt.”

House Committee Considers Using PMIB

The Kansas House Appropriations Committee will forward a bill to borrow from the PMIB to the full house, though it wasn’t a unanimous committee decision. It divided Democratic committee members.

Rep. Henry Helgerson, an Eastborough Democrat, said he is concerned the money will never be repaid.

It is such a dangerous precedent that I urge you to look at other alternatives,” he said.

Rep. Kathy Wolfe-Moore, a Kansas City Democrat, said she was opposed to the idea in principle. However, she said, legislators promised schools they wouldn’t cut them further when they approved block grant funding a few years ago.

The Kansas PTA is asking its members to call Senators and ask them to consider using the PMIB to avoid a proposed 5 percent cut to schools this year.

“It’s time to draw upon this rainy day fund,” according to the Kansas PTA alert.

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