Written by Bob Brookens Tuesday, 17 February 2009 13:54
The House and Senate passed a revised 2009 budget Thursday and sent it to the governor. Now we’ll see whether the governor accepts it, vetoes it, or exercises her right to line-item veto certain parts.
The minority leaders of the Senate and House are advocating the governor veto the school-funding provision; and she has that power. That would help our districts make it through this school year, but it will put the state in a bind elsewhere.
You already know I voted for the House/Senate package, believing it to be the best we could do. The governor also appears to still have misgivings about paying the “slider” money and may try to tinker with that one, as well.
I have not heard of any other hot issues relating to the 2009 budget. For more on the subject, I suggest you read the Saturday Feb. 14 editorial in the Kansas City Star (Workable Spending Plan), or articles and editorials in the various Kansas daily papers on the subject.
I’ve said enough in the last several weeks about the budget to choke a horse, so let’s get on with the rest of the issues.
In the Education Committee, we are grappling with whether one district may drive (at its own expense) 2.5 miles away from a neighbor’s school and pick up that neighboring district’s students.
Right now, the student must live 10 miles away from his home district’s school. It seems this might give choice to parents, but could create ill feelings between districts and communities.
Education Committee is also considering a bill limiting smaller schools from receiving “high-density poverty” funding. We have extra funding designed for large districts with lots of poverty in densely populated areas, but because of the way the law was written, some small districts with impoverished families are eligible for that funding.
Smaller schools also receive low-enrollment funding. The bill would limit small schools to receive one or the other.
I see these as separate issues. Being a small school creates certain costs; having impoverished students causes a different set of needs. Reason says poverty just might be poverty, no matter where it is; however, the contention is that rural poverty looks different from urban poverty and doesn’t need the same fix.
I have requested more information on this issue before we vote. This issue will likely affect some of the school school districts in the 70th District.
If I receive no clarification on the face of poverty before we vote, I will vote “no.” We should not stop funding a specific need without knowing the consequences.
Next week, I hope to discuss topics the Judiciary or the Corrections and Juvenile Justice committees are getting into. We might even hear about energy this session! Time will tell.
If you wish to email me, please use Brookens70@sbcglobal.net. The state e-mail address has been issued, but sometimes I cannot get that e-mail. You may also write me at 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861, or at Bob Brookens, Capitol Building, Topeka, KS 66612. If you are coming to Topeka, call me at: 785-296-7626.