June 30, 2005
I wanted to update you on progress in the House. Thus, my long delay. In fact, I didn’t have anything to update until just now, but I didn’t want you to think there was something going on and I wasn’t telling you! We have been gaveling in, recessing, standing at ease, and repeating that order over, and over, and over... You get the idea. However, that doesn’t mean we have not been working. During these breaks we have been meeting in our Republican caucus, meeting in small groups to discuss solutions, and constantly taking "baby steps" toward a plan that will get 63 House votes and 21 Senate votes.
You’ve seen my comments in newspapers across the state about a promised "quid pro quo" for school funding. Yes, some of my colleagues are promising to vote for school funding if the constitutional amendment passes. I might support an amendment during a regular session, but I do not see that as our purpose for being in Topeka. If the amendment is valid now, it will be valid in January, or February, etc.
87th Street Update from the City of Lenexa
Goddard Street south of 87th Street Parkway (east of I-35) will be closed beginning June 30 as contractors continue to make progress on the 87th Street Parkway, I-35, US-69 Highway interchange project. This closure will be in effect until July 31st.
Lenexa Drive, north of 87th will be closed beginning Wednesday, July 6th. This closure will be in effect until about September 2nd.
Also, Reeder Road will be closed beginning on July 6th. This closure will remain in effect until about July 26th.
Lenexa Community Days Parade
If you are in town for the Lenexa Community Days Parade on Monday morning (July 4th), please consider joining the Sharp team! We will meet under the train bridge on 95th Street and Santa Fe at 9:30 a.m. You will have to park at the Senior Center or another lot and walk because the streets are closed at Noland. If you have already let me know you are coming, please reply again in case your weekend schedule has changed!
Augenblick and Myers - This study was brought before the legislature for full implementation. There are two major parts of the study - funding, and consolidation. As many of you know, it would cost nearly $1 billion to implement. The bill was divided into those two parts. I opposed the funding piece, not because I do not think Kansas schools need enhancements, but that amount would simply bankrupt our state. We have been on the verge of that for a couple of years, and fully funding A&M right now would be the proverbial "straw."
I was one of few legislators that supported the consolidation side of A&M. Consolidation is coming and we have failed to explain it properly. In truth, consolidation would be a HUGE tax break for our rural friends. Imagine, instead of your city supporting an entire school district of 150, 300, or even 500 kids, you combine with four other cities in the county, and divide the cost of funding one school district between four communities. Talk about a tax cut! In fact, the legislature has made consolidation even more economically attractive for those communities that are interested, through tax incentives.
SB 3 - This is the original Senate bill that came in at about $160 million ($130 million for schools and $30 million for a property tax rollback). The House Select Committee on Education changed the bill to about $11 million, amendments were added on the floor, and the bill lost on the House floor.
Revived, the bill came out of the committee again with $86 million for schools, and two dozen policy changes, half of which are "we’re right, you’re wrong" directives to the Court - measures that I’ve heard from A LOT of you (thank you for all of the emails, BTW).
There were a couple of amendments to the bill as well, that made me feel even better about voting against it. The first amendment attached to the bill was tying its implementation to passage of the constitutional amendment I discussed in previous Records, basically holding school finance hostage.
The "bicameral MoJo" plan was introduced as an amendment to this bill. This was the bicameral, bipartisan bill that I have been working on with both Republicans and Democrats. This plan was originally known as the MoJo plan, but is now a MoJo/Senate hybrid. What a concept - working with the Senate to craft a bill, since both houses have to pass it! The amendment did not pass (59-65), but I have described it below to avoid confusion with SB 3.
Final Action 64-59. I voted NO. I don’t think this bill will pass constitutional muster, and I don’t want my name on a bill that forces the legislature into another Special Session. By thumbing our noses at the Court, we are calling their bluff on the warning - in their opinion, they said they would apply the full Augenblick and Myers study (an additional $600+ million). Nevertheless, we will now see if the Senate likes it.
Here’s some information about the plan you’ve been hearing about in the media. MoJo/Senate hybrid components:
$154 increase per pupil - $84.8 million
Bilingual weighting increased by $11 million
At risk weighting increased by $56 million
Special education increased by $33.5 million
Correlation weighting increased by $31 million (good for SMSD)
Equalize Local Option Budget provisions from HB 2247 (the local provisions the Court stayed) and Capital Outlay
Creates at-risk council to finally determine the TRUE indicators of an at-risk student!
School districts cannot spend general fund $$ for attorney fees to sue the state.
65% of new monies must be spent in the classroom.
No court can close schools or prevent distribution of funds for public education.
What does all of this mean to Shawnee Mission schools?
$4.6 million in the BSAPP
$1.4 million at risk
$1.7 million special education
= $10.6 million, or a total of $382 per pupil
Hope this helps to show what we have been doing the past week! I will keep you updated as we go throughout the day... The Court deadline is tomorrow, July 1st.
Rep. Stephanie Sharp
Serving Shawnee and Lenexa