KS Liberty Cluelessness…

I almost hate to waste so much time dealing with such utterly absurd and ignorant rhetoric as appears daily in “news” outlet Kansas Liberty. But, they’re at it again:
Again, they raise the point that it has now been proven that the massive infusion of cash over the past 10 years has led to no improvement in results. See my post below where I explain that there was no massive infusion of cash.
In their latest story, the raise two new points:
Regarding the lawsuit filed by Salina and Dodge City in 1999, eventually found in their favor, they note in the most recent article:
“The suit gave the Kansas Supreme Court the opportunity to order the  Legislature to provide substantial funding increases for schools.”

This phrasing suggests that the court was simply waiting to be fed such an opportunity. In fact, the initial response of the trial court was to dismiss the case on the grounds that the same formula had been found constitutional in 1994 (USD 229 v. State). The Supreme Court did accept plaintiffs argument that enough things had changed since that time that a trial was warranted. Neither the trial court nor supreme court seemed enthusiastic to address the issue at the time, since it was still relatively soon after all of the 1990s reforms and court rulings.

They also note that the huge increases in funding are now responsible for the state budget situation:

“The increases are widely blamed for being the primary culprit in creating the state’s growing financial crisis.”

… or could it just be the economy… stupid. States are facing large budget deficits. That’s just how it is right now.

Now, the states facing the biggest deficits are those most dependent on income tax revenues to fill their general fund budgets and support public services. Those facing the biggest problems in education funding are those most reliant on state general funds to support education. This is because income tax returns drop off more quickly than sales tax returns, and property tax revenues are the most stable of the mix.

So, why is this relevant? Well, Kansas’ difficulties with education funding and the impact of education funding on the state budget are largely a function of the reductions in the statewide general fund mill levy from 35 mills to 20 mills in the late 1990s. The legislature created an imbalanced revenue portfolio for itself at that time, leading to the difficult school funding circumstances from 2001 to 2003, and again now. Had the legislature not cut this more stable revenue source from the system, they’d be much better off right now. Yes, unlike the 2001-2003 downturn where only income tax revenues declined, this downturn is hitting other revenues, even potentially property tax revenues. That said, property tax revenues are still more resilient (less elastic).

I’m simply mind-blown by the level of ignorant rhetoric I see in this supposed news outlet.

Published by schoolfinance101

Bruce Baker is an Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. From 1997 to 2008 he was a professor at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. He is lead author with Preston Green (Penn State University) and Craig Richards (Teachers College, Columbia University) of Financing Education Systems, a graduate level textbook on school finance policy published by Merrill/Prentice-Hall. Professor Baker has written a multitude of peer reviewed research articles on state school finance policy, teacher labor markets, school leadership labor markets and higher education finance and policy. His recent work has focused on measuring cost variations associated with schooling contexts and student population characteristics, including ways to better design state school finance policies and local district allocation formulas (including Weighted Student Funding) for better meeting the needs of students. Baker, along with Preston Green of Penn State University are co-authors of the chapter on Conceptions of Equity in the recently released Handbook of Research Education Finance and Policy, and co-authors of the chapter on the Politics of Education Finance in the Handbook of Education Politics and Policy and co-authors of the chapter on School Finance in the Handbook of Education Policy of the American Educational Research Association. Professor Baker has also consulted for state legislatures, boards of education and other organizations on education policy and school finance issues and has testified in state school finance litigation in Kansas, Missouri and Arizona. He is a member of the Think Tank Review Panel, a group of academic researchers who conduct technical reviews of publicly released think tank reports on education policy issues.

3 thoughts on “KS Liberty Cluelessness…

  1. I thought with my move, I’d be leaving Kansas behind more quickly. But, I have a series of different Google news alerts on school funding terms and phrases, none specific to Kansas. The most absurd stuff keeps coming from Kansas – specifically Kansas Liberty.

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