Kansas school lobby: not enough spending, not enough taxation

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:

Kansas school spending per pupil outpaces 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:

Kansas school state aid per pupil outpaces 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.

3 Comments

  • Jean Howard -

    KSAB has been asked how much money would be enough. The response: MORE!! We are supporting an empire that is growing year after year … and they use the children to continue to finance adminstration’s huge salaries and benefits (only 40% of the funding actually reaches the classroom). Check out the headquarters of KSAB, which resembles the Taj Mahal. It’s not about educating our kids; it’s about the MONEY!! The school lobby (paid for the taxpayer) is strong and will continue to fleece us as long as we allow it.

  • My daughter goes to private school there are only 14 kids per class and her class scored 1st in the area this year on the annual State math and reading tests. Here’s the real surprise it only costs me $4100 per year, a far cry from the $13,000 I will helping to pay for pupils from USD 259.

  • wichitator -

    A couple of facts to expand the power of this story.

    One, it is a fact that the KASB (KS Assoc. of School Boards) often utilize the same lobbyist as the KNEA in testifying in front of legislative committees. Legislators and other “regulars” who attend legislative committee hearings know that this happens.

    The KNEA is by far the most powerful lobbying entity at the statehouse. KNEA political action committees (pacs) regularly support the tax ‘n spend “moderates” from both parties who form a fiscal majority and regularly give us 8-10% annual hikes in state school spending the last few years. In other states where the news media is more candid, these “moderates” are called by their true names: liberals.

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