In Topeka, the Kansas Association of School Boards rarely misses an opportunity to complain that spending on government schools is too low. The same goes for the Kansas National Education Association, the teachers union.
Also, taxes aren’t high enough, they say.
A recent note from KNEA regarding a possible sales tax holiday in Kansas stated: “Our primary concerns are related to the bill’s fiscal note which indicates a loss of more than $57 million in revenue to the state should such a holiday be enacted.” The message goes on to suggest some reforms in Kansas sales tax law, as long as the inflow of dollars is not reduced.
In another message, we see that the education lobby in Kansas doesn’t understand the fiscal climate in Kansas at all. Here’s what it said:
Fix the state’s funding system:
The financial crisis was NOT caused by spending too much money on education.
The economic downturn is NOT the sole reason for the state’s budget woes.
Legislators must refuse to give any more tax breaks, must freeze all tax cuts.
Legislators giving more tax breaks will make our situation worse.
In the long run, we must fix the tax structure to support needed services in our schools and communities.
(“Fix the tax structure” is code for figuring out ways to get more tax revenue. )
The message here is we’re not overspending. Instead, we’re not taxing enough. (You can tell they really mean this because they use all capital letters.) This is despite the fact that school spending in Kansas has been growing very rapidly the past few years. Here’s a chart of per-pupil public school spending in Kansas, along with a line showing how this growth in spending far outstrips inflation:
Sometimes the government school lobby likes to use just the spending by the state, as these numbers are lower. Here’s a chart that shows state aid per pupil, again with a line indicating inflation:
Despite this growth, the public school lobby works every day in Topeka to get more spending and resists all measures that would let parents decide themselves how to spend this money.