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Dear Friend: 

The special session was completed in two days and the Supreme Court has ruled. The equity portion of the Gannon lawsuit has been resolved. The details of the solution are more complex than portrayed in the media, and I will share my understanding of the events with you.
On Thursday, June 23rd, HB 2001 was introduced in Appropriations Committee. The bill called for a half percent cut from the general funds (classroom dollars) from all public schools in Kansas. It also reinstated the Local Option Budget funding formula that was removed when block grants were put in place. Under this plan, Shawnee Mission would have lost $666,000 in addition to the $1.4 million reduction caused by returning to the old formula. While this bill was “on the table”, the moderates had another plan in the works. The Democrats also had a plan that had been announced at a press conference.

The plan I was supporting included two bills: one, the “Safe Harbor” bill that was funded by sources outside of the schools and an “Extraordinary Needs” bill that enabled districts to seek approval for funds made available to the State Board of Education. These bills were separate because a policy cannot be part of an appropriations bill. Neither bill was allowed to be introduced into the Appropriations Committee, a disappointing but not unexpected procedural move by our leadership. Traditionally all bills are allowed introduction. Thursday was also the day that the SMSD took a position supporting the half percent cut to classrooms. However, legislators were clear that alternatives were available and held firm on that position. By Friday, leadership realized that the half percent cut was not going to pass, and began negotiating to find another solution. Ultimately, Substitute for HB 2001 was passed 38-1 in the Senate and 116-6  in the House including my YES.

While it was encouraging to see compromise from leadership for what seemed like the first time in four years, the outcome continues to hurt our Shawnee Mission students. It is past time to have a new funding formula and I will be working over the summer/fall to craft a proposal that resolves the disparity issues that have previously existed. Kansas put school funding in its constitution because of the crucial role it plays in the health of our community.

Clarification of Political Issues
Now that we are out of session for the year, I wanted to take the opportunity to clear up some confusing issues that I see being discussed on the campaign circuit. (Note: I do not have a primary opponent.) Hopefully you will be able to de-code some of the postcards you receive after reading these explanations.

Private School Scholarship (Voucher) Program
Ten million dollars can be taken from our state general fund to allow corporations to give money to scholarship granting organizations. Of the money given by corporations, 70% is eliminated from their tax assessment; it is not a deduction but a reduction. Those donations are assigned to private schools including religious institutions. The money is used for tuition granted to approved students who qualify because of their income level. Some schools have hired recruiters to find kids that they want to attract to their schools. As of now, nearly 260 kids have been identified for next year and are on the list for consideration to participate in this program. Private schools have no requirements for accountability of their expenses or assessments of student outcomes; they also are not required to take all students in their schools, unlike our public institutions. This ten-million-dollar tax break could be used for Base State Aid per Pupil if the legislature so desired.
Join Me and Vote Early
You may vote NOW at the following locations
Make NE Johnson County proud by having the best turnout in the state. Remember to bring your ID. Claim your freedom and vote!
Justice Selection
State Supreme Court justices are picked by a nine-member nominating commission; four of those commissioners are non-lawyers appointed by the governor. The other five, including the chair, are elected by lawyers. Judges are charged with interpreting the law to the best of their ability, often using case law to support their conclusion. Our country put together three branches of government as a check and balance measure. The Kansas nominating commission was instigated over fifty years ago when the selection process was manipulated and politicized by a sitting governor. The people were rightfully outraged and the current system was voted into place. Currently, there is a political move to unseat all of our Supreme Court Justices and return to governor appointments which I personally do not support.

State Budget and Revenue
 Under the current tax plan, we continue to have significantly less revenue than is called for by the budget that was signed by Governor Brownback. This year alone we have been forced to cut multiple programs multiple times by very significant amounts. We also have borrowed money by using bonding authority against both the KPERS retirement system and the Department of Transportation, and are using whatever one-time money that can be scraped together to fill the budget hole. The most talked-about change to our revenue woes, the LLC tax giveaway fix, does not solve the problem. Just under 70% of the money lost by our income tax cuts came from the 330,000 businesses that now pay no income tax. Adding that money by itself will still leave us with huge deficit issues in the years to come. Economic instability and budgets based on borrowing do not equal fiscal responsibility.
It is a privilege to serve you and in spite of campaigning, I will continue to work on issues that matter to my District. If you need assistance, you can contact me at any time. for e-mail, 913-485-2121 by telephone. Thank you for allowing me to work for you.

Rep. Barbara Bollier
Kansas State Representative, District 21
Candidate, Kansas Senate 7
Serving Northeast Johnson County
Copyright © 2016 Bollier for State Senate, Linda Manco, Treasurer, All rights reserved.

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