Brownback announces cuts to public schools, higher ed

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT/AP) — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he’s going to cut nearly $45 million in funding for public schools and higher education in March.

But the governor also suggested that lawmakers could head off the reductions by withholding $54 million from public schools instead.

“I am calling on the legislature to reform equalization factors in the current school finance formula over the next 30 days to stall the increase of $54 million in Local Option Budget State Aid and Capital Outlay State Aid spending that was not appropriated by the Legislature in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget bill,” said Governor Brownback. “By reforming the equalization factors, the legislature could, and should, restore the 1.5 percent allotment.”

The Republican governor announced his plans for the current budget cycle Thursday just ahead of a Senate vote on a bill aimed at erasing a projected $344 million deficit.

Brownback also stated that recent media coverage of the purchase of a $48,000 grand piano at a Kansas City high school is symptomatic of the inherent flaws in the current formula. Brownback says that money could and should have been used to hire another teacher to reduce class sizes and help improve academic achievement.

Kansas law gives the governor the authority to make some budget cuts on his own to keep the budget in balance.

“The dramatic increase in state education funding that has occurred over the last four years is unsustainable,” the Governor said. “School districts are estimated to have approximately $381 million in reserve fund balances to help them offset the smaller than expected increase in state funding.  The Kansas Department of Education should work with school districts to help them with any cash flow challenges that may arise.”

The $54 million represents additional funding required under a law enacted last year to boost aid to poor districts. The promised aid is costing more than anticipated.

The Associated Press Contributed to this Story

 

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