Shame on Kansas
What has happened to our collective great moral conscience? Our state social services are in line for deep, painful cuts to some to the poorest of us all. Yet the Senate Ways and Means Committee and House appropriations Committee have cut $12 million in the Children’s Initiative Fund (CIF) funding (24%) which serves nearly one half of our state’s children. CIF serves Children’s Mental Health, Smart Start, Family Preservation, Early Childhood and Autism Grants, Early Head Start and Child Care Quality Initiatives and others.
Worse still, legislators are proposing big cuts to the school budget. House Bill 2739 proposes reducing general state aid and supplemental general state aid to schools by almost $200 million. Our wonderful Kansas grade, middle and high schools are at great risk. Are we really going to let this happen?
Kansas, along with many other states, was seriously ill prepared for the economic downturn. Our legislators didn’t set aside enough money to cover the shortfall. Decrease in property values made for decrease in property taxes. The problem now is how to deal with the budget crisis. Kansas needs $467 million to balance the budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 but let’s not do it at the expense of our children’s future.
I favor business and am not in favor of raising taxes but when the stakes are this high, it must be a consideration. Why can’t our legislators put aside petty disagreements and come up with a plan where everybody wins?
House Bill 2739 states that any school district with the amount per pupil less than the state average may call an election to raise mill levy. The bill reduces base state aid per pupil to $4,005. That is more than $ 1000 less than the previous year with the result that teachers will be fired, classroom sizes will increase, music and athletics will be cut, libraries won’t be able to buy new books, teacher’s pay will be reduced and some schools may close.
Because of less federal aid, Kansas’s schools must operate more efficiently. I believe enough can be done to offset the loss of federal money and without cutting needed programs. The House appropriations Committee made a recommendation to “restore $6.9 million in welfare aid to the developmentally and physically disabled and reduce state government payroll by 5% through mandatory furloughs and a 1% across-the-board cut to agency operating budgets (except K-12, colleges, corrections, and human service caseloads.) The plan doesn’t raise taxes and leaves a $312 million ending balance.”
Lets ask more parents to volunteer their time in classrooms to aid teachers.
Maybe large corporations can help bear the cost of saving our kids.
Think about raising money in our own school districts.
Most importantly, let’s get over the great ideological “growth of government” divide.
Our children need us to assure them a bright and healthy future.