Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Brownback Is Right. Even KASB Agrees

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Brownback Is Right. Even KASB Agrees

Well, this is a first. The Kansas Association of School Boards’ associate executive director of advocacy, Mark Tallman, listened to Gov. Brownback’s interview last week, and agrees with the Governor’s assessment of school funding: State aid to schools is up!

Brownback told KCPT’s Mike Shanin that school funding had increased 8 percent over the course of the Brownback Administration. Here’s Tallman’s Truth-o-Meter:

“...The total of major state aid categories increased nearly 3.8 billion in 2011, the first year of Brownback’s administration, to $4.09 billion approved for next year: $295 million or 7.8 percent. That’s very close to the Governor’s 8 percent number.”

Of course, like a true partisan, Tallman then uses some mental gymnastics worthy of Simone Biles to explain why it’s up, but it’s not anywhere close to enough.

Guys, it’s never, ever enough--at least, not when an actual Republican is captaining the ship. Tallman notes that the consumer price index is up 8.9 percent, so school funding isn’t keeping up with inflation. While we’re on this topic, I can’t keep it straight. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, the CPI is down, and therefore seniors won’t receive a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in their social security checks. But CPI is so high that any senior homeowners are about to be walloped by the school districts and the state to pay for mediocre government schools. I don’t get it.

Tallman also complains that much of the extra school funding went to things like KPERs, capital outlay, and and bond and interest state aid. I get really, really tired of explaining this, but someone must, and the mainstream media clearly isn’t going to.

Former Govs. Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson, Democrats, essentially gutted KPERs (teacher pensions) during their tenures. Meanwhile, they were investigated by the Securities Exchange Commission. The SEC levied fraud charges against the Parkinson Administration for not disclosing the sorry state of the state’s pension program. Under Parkinson’s tutelage, KPERS was the second-most-underfunded state pension program in the nation. Brownback’s job was to right the pension ship, which he has.

There’s not a money tree growing somewhere out back in Topeka. Despite the ridiculous suggestion that there’s an endless supply of cash that Brownback just refuses to steal from the people, there's no money tree. When our seniors are hit with insane tax increases--they’re coming, seniors, beware--they are going to have trouble making ends meet. (That is every senior except retired state employees, thanks to Brownback).

No, KPERS funds can’t be used in the classroom, but they are part of the cost of doing business. And capital outlay funding and bond and interest state aid is up as a result of that stupid former school funding formula, which required that any time a district builds a new school, they receive extra weighting from the state. The school districts themselves are responsible for increases there. They decide, along with their voters, to make those expenditures. By the way, I completely reject the idea that money spent on new classrooms and modern technology via bond issues is money that isn’t going to the classrooms. No, it’s money that ISN’T going to administrators.

I’m just waiting for the PTA to blame Brownback for the ongoing train wreck that is teacher negotiations in the Shawnee Mission School District. In that massive school district, teacher salary and benefits negotiations are at a standstill over a teacher’s union request for an extra $1,300 per year for teachers with a Master’s degree. Approximate total cost to the district: $300,000. Why yes, that is the same district that weeks prior offered the district’s administrators raises of up to 15 percent. Approximate cost to the district: $75,000 for five people.

When they start to blame Brownback for that hot mess, please be armed with this knowledge: Those decisions came from the school board. Your state legislators and state government had NOTHING to do with it.

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