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Communities of the
25th District

Mission Hills
Mission Woods
Prairie Village
Roeland Park
Westwood Hills


In Topeka: 
State Capitol Room 352-A
Topeka, KS 66612

At home in Fairway
4124 Brookridge Drive
Fairway, KS 66205

Dear Friend:

Thanks to KCUR for covering my work on K-12 funding: After months of delay, the House finally debated and passed a comprehensive K-12 education bill. HB 2445 contains both appropriations and policy provisions to answer the Gannon decision handed down by the Kansas Supreme Court on October 2, 2017. The court directed the legislature to address a number of points in the formula regarding equitable distribution of funds, as well as provide an overall more adequate level of funding for our schools.
I filed HB 2445 before our legislative session began in January. At the time, it contained only the equity changes, as I knew the adequacy remedy would require input from a variety of sources. While the level of funding any one of us may want varies, the work that went into crafting this plan reflects a serious effort to increase funding while working within existing resources.
I am the first to admit this bill is not perfect. I would love to have more money for our schools in a shorter timeframe. The obstacle to doing that was election-year politics. Leaders from both sides of the political aisle, and in both chambers of the legislature have been saying that new tax increases are not an option. 
Republican Senate President:
Kansas City Star: Lawmakers shocked by report that Kansas schools need up to $2 billion
  • “We have worked hard to comply with the court’s demands however additional funds will not be possible without implementing another major tax increase on all Kansans and without continuing to short other state needs such as healthcare, social services, transportation, and higher education all in the favor of schools,” Wagle said.
Democratic House Minority Leader:
Lawrence Journal-World: Kansas House committee advances school finance plan that would add $522M in new funding
  • “No one in our caucus is talking about revenues, no matter what you hear out there,” Ward said. “No one is saying the T-word (taxes). We’re just not doing it.”
It is important that we fund our entire budget responsibly, not just K-12 education. Human service caseload increases, emergency pay increases for the Department of Corrections, salary increases for judicial branch employees, funding for water conservation, increased funding for foster care, mental health services, and so many other necessary things are just some of the many pressures on our state budget. We have heard our leadership demanding funding for these areas since October, yet we also have colleagues trying to move legislation to reduce taxes once again.

The political tug of war makes it difficult to find consensus. However, there can be no excuses. April 30 looms as the deadline for the state to enter its legal brief defending the work of the legislature. So what exactly is in our plan?

HB 2445 Overview
Equity changes:
  • Repeals the 10% minimum floor for at-risk funding
  • Repeals the expanded use of capital outlay funds for utilities & hazard insurance
  • Adjusts the LOB calculation to use current year data rather than the prior year
Other policy provisions:
  • Reworks the transportation weighting to address concerns raised by the Legislative Post Audit study released in December
  • Removes sunset on Career & Tech Ed weighting
  • Expands the 4-year old at-risk program to allow 3 year olds as well
  • Repeals the cap on bonding authority that conflicted with previous limitations put in statute in 2016
Adequacy provisions:
  • Increases Base State Aid Per Pupil (BSAPP) over 5 years as follows:
    • 2019 increase to $4170 per pupil
    • 2020 increase to $4307 per pupil
    • 2021 increase to $4444 per pupil
    • 2022 increase to $4581 per pupil
    • 2023 increase to $4781 per pupil
  • Increases Special Education funding by $74.4 million total over 5 years
  • Adds $10 million for a pilot partnership with community mental health centers
Here is a snapshot of the total year-over-year new spending on K-12 provided by both SB 19 last year and HB 2445 this year:

Combined Effects of SB 19 and HB 4445, as amended by House K-12 Budget Committee:
Year-Over-Year Increase                                                 
2017-18                                  194,705,228
2018-19                                  189,428,148                                                                     
2019-20                                  105,500,000                                                                     
2020-21                                  105,500,000                                                                     
2021-22                                  113,100,000                                                                     
2022-23                                  115,500,000                                                                         
6-yr. total                               823,733,376   

Will this be enough? It is hard to say. This is a good faith effort to comply with the direction given to us by the court. Had we done nothing more than simply meet the agreed upon funding schedule in the Montoy settlement and adjust thereafter for inflation, we would have been spending roughly the same amount by now. We have three studies that have been conducted over a 15-year timeframe using different methods that all point to the need to invest significant resources in our public schools.

The bill passed the House 71-53, I voted yes. At this point, the entire legislature is at the mercy of the Senate and whether they decide to move this bill, their own, or a combination of the two. Stay tuned.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with questions or ideas about these or other legislative issues. It is my honor to serve you.


Rep. Melissa Rooker
Kansas State Representative, District 25
Serving Northeast Johnson County
Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved.
Melissa Rooker,