Under the Dome - February 4, 2013
House Appropriations gets School Finance 101
The House Appropriations Committee got a lesson in school finance today. This is important because so many legislators are new to the process and the formula can be a bit daunting for folks who are not talking about it every day.
Hopefully the overview from Legislative Research staffer Reagan Cussimanio will give everyone enough knowledge to at least know what questions to ask. Reagan did a great job. Thanks to Chairman Rhoades for scheduling this briefing.
The only unusual thing was that long time school finance expert Dale Dennis, Deputy Commissioner of Education was sitting among the observers and not making the presentation!
No word on HB 2085
The hearing is over but no action has been scheduled on HB 2085, the bill that essentially eliminates collective bargaining for teachers. From our review of the calendar, it looks like the committee won't discuss the bill until at least Thursday and even then it's not listed for action - just the notice of "possible action on bills previously heard."
In the meantime, continue to let your legislators know that collective bargaining is good for Kansas schools.
Over the weekend a couple of superintendents were heard standing up for teachers and collective bargaining. Kudos go out to Ark City Superintendent Ballard and Great Bend Superintendent Vernon for their support of teachers as professionals.
HB 2023 now in the Senate
In the fast track world of public employee bashing, the Senate is wasting no time in moving on HB 2023, the "no public employee has a voice in politics" bill passed last week by the House. This bill would prohibit teachers from using any money collected via payroll deduction for any broadly defined "political activity." The bill goes even further for other public employees, banning their voice regardless of how the money is collected.
Political activity is defined so vaguely and so broadly in the bill as to likely ban everything from supporting candidates to talking to members about a bond issue to asking a legislator or board member to cast a particular vote. This bill essentially silences working men and women simply because they earn their pay in service to the state, a city or county, or a school district.
Opponents will speak at a hearing tomorrow in the Senate Commerce Committee chaired by Sen. Julia Lynn with vice chair Sen. Susan Wagle. Wagle rammed a similar bill through a committee last year by silencing Senators who spoke against it in committee.
Proponents get the floor on Wednesday. You might note that this is unusual. It is practice in the legislature to have proponents speak first (since it is, after all, their bill) and then allow opponents to speak giving them the opportunity to respond directly to rationale for the bill introduction. Senator Lynn has reversed this procedure so that the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and others who seek this legislation so, in the words of Chamber lobbyist Eric Stafford, "we can get rid of public sector unions," can spend their time working to discredit the opponents.
Feel free to weigh in with the Committee members:
Julia Lynn - Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Wagle - email@example.com
Pat Apple - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Denning - email@example.com
Jay Emler - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Longbine - email@example.com
Jeff Melcher - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Olson - Robert.email@example.com
Mary Pilcher-Cook - firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Holland - email@example.com
Oletha Faust-Goudeau - firstname.lastname@example.org