The turnout was small, but those who came to the annual Chamber of Com?merce legislative coffee in Hillsboro Saturday morning affirmed Rep. Don. Schroe?der?s perspective regarding the Kansas Legislature?s activity so far this session.
Schroe?der aligned himself with those who question the Legislature?s budgeting process, its perspective on public education and the trend of passing state costs onto local government.
Schroeder, who represents the 74th District, said he did not support budget-balancing tactics that take funding and fees earmarked for agencies and purposes.
?I don?t think it?s a good process,? he said. ?It?s not a structurally balanced budget?structurally balanced means your revenues and expenditures match.?
Schroeder said he sees no indication the Legisla?ture, or the governor, are interested in reversing the 2012 income-tax cuts to generate needed revenue.
?If something doesn?t change, I suspect we will continue to struggle with our budget for years to come,? Schroeder said.
In regard to schools, Schroeder said an early bill to consolidate school districts has been shelved for this session, but he expects action on House Bill 2292, which has as one of its goals the elimination of federal Common Core standards.
Schroeder said he sees nothing objectionable in Common Core, and that having a nationwide standard has made it more likely that students are more likely to find themselves in step with the standards of a new school when families move.
If the Legislature eliminates Common Core, the state would create its own standards, but that would take time to develop and approve.
?What do you do in the meantime?? he asked.
Bob Woelk, a local school teacher, asked whether the Legisla?ture has been addressing the Kansas Supreme Court?s ruling that block-grant funding is unconstitutional. The Court set a deadline of June 30 for the Legislature to develop a new funding plan.
Woelk said a recent news story suggested that teachers get their lump-sum payment before June 30 or they may not get paid at all if an appropriate funding plan is not in place by then.
?I?m sure there?s some discussion going on about it, but I?m sure not privy to it at this point,? Schroeder said. ?I don?t know if the intention will be to ignore (the Court?s ruling), but I doubt that we will get in to address it until we get to the veto session (the first week of May).?
Schroeder said it?s possible the Legislature will be called into special session to address both the state budget and the school funding formula.
Hillsboro City Admini?strator Larry Paine expressed his frustration with the so-called ?budget-lid law? that passed at the end of the 2015 session without even a public hearing.
The law would require local governments to call for a public election to raise property taxes if the proposed increase was higher than the current rate of inflation.
Schroeder said the bill orignally called for the law to be implemented in 2018. This session, it was suggested that implementation begin in 2016; a more recent push has been 2017.
?There have been a lot of things the Legisla?ture has done, partly because of the state?s budget issues, that have pushed more costs onto local government,? Schroe?der said. ?There?s no question about that?a lot of people deny it, but it is true.?
Sen. Rick Wilborn (R-McPherson) did not participate in Hillsboro?s event, which started at 9 a.m. Wilborn did participate in Marion?s gathering, which started at 10 a.m.