Easy Choices, Hard Choices, Right Choices

Life is filled with choices — some easy, others less so. When I was a student, I could choose to do my homework in a timely manner. If I did, I’d retain my eligibility for sports and maybe even stay in my parents’ good graces. Sometimes the consequences of choices are harder to see in the moment. Shortly after getting my first car, I met a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper who saw my speeding as a bit of a problem. Short-term choice that got me to school on time actually ended with a less pleasant long-term consequence – citation for speeding plus the loss of driving privileges.

The State of Kansas is out of money. As you’ve probably seen in the news, Kansas has, yet again, failed to generate the money needed to meet its obligations. The tax policy changes passed by the legislature in 2012 with the promise of creating growth, have not delivered. And again, Gov. Brownback and the Kansas Legislature are proposing cuts to spending and transfers from one state fund to another. Like transfers from a savings account to a checking account, this is a temporary band-aid because there is no more money coming in to replace it. But for the people making these decisions, a temporary fix may seem easier right now than a lasting solution.

SclassroomOne choice offered by the governor is to cut spending on K-12 schools by about $57 million dollars, or $124 per student. (See below for an outline of the three options Gov. Brownback proposed.) In Eudora, this translates to a cut for the 2016-17 school of about $210,000. What does $210,000 translate to? Well, it’s the same as of 4.5 teaching positions. It’s the cost of all extracurricular activities. It’s the money it will take to replace the two buses and van that we need to transport students next year. We have no easy choices here.

Right now, our community is being forced into yet another a situation that has nothing to do with anything in Eudora. Legislative decisions on tax policy have created cash flow problems for every school and community in Kansas. The governor proposed three choices (details are below). All three of these are temporary fixes — easy choices today, but ones that have long-reaching negative consequences for the people of Kansas. Where is the hard — but right — choice to correct the tax policy that has created this state budget crisis? Where is the hard — but right — choice to fix the state’s revenue problem and begin adequately funding state services again?

Our community understands the importance of a quality education, and our locally elected school board has made hard choices, over many years, to round out local property tax increases with increases in fees, reductions in expenses and cuts to services and programs. It is time now for our elected officials to make the hard — but right — choices. Set aside partisan, election year politics. Restore stable revenue sources that fund state services. And choose to put our state back on stable financial ground.

And it’s time now for you — for all of us — to reach out to our elected officials and let them know what’s important to you, and what’s at stake in Eudora. Go to openstates.org to find contact information for the people elected to represent you in Topeka.


Governor’s Proposed Options:

Option 1

  • Transfer $70 million from State Highway Fund to State General Fund in FY16 and $115 million in FY17
  • Carry forward a 3% reduction in aid to Universities in FY16
  • Securitize future tobacco settlement payments in excess of $42 million for about $158 million in FY17

Option 2

  • Transfer $70 million from State Highway Fund to State General Fund in FY16 and $115 million in FY17
  • Carry forward a 3% reduction in aid to Universities in FY16
  • Reduce expenditures or transfer $25 million in targeted efficiency savings
  • Delay FY16 fourth quarter KPERS payment that would not be made until FY18

Option 3

  • Transfer $70 million from State Highway Fund to State General Fund in FY16 and $115 million in FY17
  • 3-5% expenditure reductions would be made to most state agencies for FY17 totaling $139 million
  • $57,262.285 reduction from the Kansas Department of Education

 

Click here to view the Governor’s budget amendment.

 

 

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