A Weekly Rundown of Important Activity in Topeka, from a Principled Perspective
Week Nine -- March 18, 2019
“Education spending will be most effective if it relies on parental choice & private initiative --the building blocks of success throughout our society.”
― Milton Friedman 

The Facts of the Matter is a feature in The Truth Report each week, highlighting important information, some of which is not always reported or emphasized in the mainstream press:
  • More money for schools doesn’t always mean better outcomes for kids. For decades, taxpayer spending on K-12 education has steadily climbed. This stalled during the Great Recession, but it is on the rise again. It is often assumed that this additional spending will be good for students, but the data suggest that increased funding by itself has little relationship to student achievement growth.  (Source)

  • Abortion harms women physically, psychologically, relationally, and culturally. The pro-abortion rhetoric falls flat against the reality of how abortion impacts women. A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry showed that women who have had an abortion have an 81% higher risk of subsequent mental health problems compared to women who have given birth. 

  • Education Spending Has Skyrocketed in Recent Years. Prior to this year’s debate about proposed funding increases, the Kansas Legislature has hiked spending on K-12 education by significant amounts in response to previous iterations of the Gannon case and dating back to the Montoy case in 2005. The amount of money per student, all sources included, is now approaching $14,000 – it was less than $10,000 in 2005. (Source).
News & Views is a weekly collection of relevant news items and editorials regarding what's going on in Topeka and around the State of Kansas.
The Realities of Medicaid Expansion:
Video Series from Majority Leader Hawkins
Health care can be a complicated issue, particularly as it pertains to government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. So, as state legislatures across the country have wrestled with whether to expand Medicaid or not, sometimes the realities of Medicaid Expansion can get lost in the debate.

Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, in a video series, discusses many of these realities in a way that is easy to understand. Below are links to those videos:

Currently Covered:
The Costs of Expansion:
Unintended Consequences:
Rural Health Care:
Alternatives to Expansion:
Truth Report Archive
Check out past Truth Reports in the Truth Report Archive by clicking here.
Transparency Center: Follow the Kansas Legislature
You can view video streaming of both chambers via the Kansas Legislature YouTube page. In addition, many committees are now audio streamed. Finally, the Kansas Legislature website remains a great resource. Here are the relevant links:

YouTube Streaming:

Spending: Ever curious about how your tax dollars are spent, particularly on items like government salaries? Then look no further than KS OpenGov, a large database of hundreds of reports at the state, city, and school district level. 

Get there by clicking here:
Stopping a Tax Increase: Senate Concurs on SB 22; Heads to Governor
On Thursday, the Senate considered a motion to concur on SB 22, which contains important components to decouple provisions of federal and state tax code in order to prevent an unintended tax increase. The Kansas Truth Caucus, as do many other organizations in the state, including the Kansas Chamber, the NFIB, AFP, and many others stand firmly behind these important parts of the bill.

The bill, as passed, includes amendments which would require out of state businesses above a certain minimum threshold of sales to collect internet sales tax on consumers from Kansas. It also includes a 1 cent reduction in the food sales tax.

After debate, the Senate adopted the motion to concur on a vote of 24-16. This sends the bill directly to the governor.
Standing for a Culture of Life: SCR 1606 Passes House
Last month, the Kansas Senate passed SCR 1606 by an overwhelming vote of 27-13. The resolution was referred to the House Federal & State Affairs Committee for a hearing. At the hearing, Senator Mary Pilcher Cook delivered testimony on behalf of the Truth Caucus, which was approved by an overwhelming vote of our members. You can view the testimony by clicking here .

The bill was carried on the House floor by Rep. Renee Erickson, who did a spectacular job in explaining the bill. She fended off a parade of non-germane amendments by Democrats, who in the end largely voted "present" on this important resolution.

We are so thankful for the numerous pro-life legislators who stood in support of the bill, including Reps. Humphries, Bergquist, Esau, Owens, and Jacobs.

Rep. Erickson fielded a question from one said Democrat about the cost of sending the resolution to NY legislators. She answered:

"Sir, I don't know that exact amount, but I'm sure it's less than the life of one unborn child."

After the debate was finished, the House forwarded the resolution to Final Action by a vote of 78-5. Yes, that's right - 32 Democrats voted present. It passed on Final Action by a vote of 85-38.

After it was passed, the pro-life women of the Senate had a signing ceremony with President Susan Wagle:
Senate Adopts Kelly’s Education Plan After Rejecting Conservative Amendments 
On Thursday, the Kansas Senate adopted SB 142 by a vote of 32-8, whitch appropriates additional funds in K-12 education spending. 

The bill would appropriate $104.5m from SGF for FY 2020. This includes $92.7m for State Foundation Aid; $10.3m for Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) employer contributions for school districts; and $1.6m for KPERS employer contributions for community colleges, technical colleges, and interlocals. The bill would also appropriate $114.2m from SGF for FY 2021. This includes $89.7m for State Foundation Aid; $21.2m for KPERS employer contributions for school districts; and $3.3m for KPERS employer contributions for community colleges, technical colleges, and interlocals.

Prior to adoption, two amendments were brought forward by conservatives. 

  • Certification. Sen. Masterson offered an amendment that would have ended the nonstop litigation by requiring the Superintendent and elected School Board of each school district to certify that their budgets accomplish the primary function of instruction, as stated in the KSDE Accounting Handbook for Unified School Districts, as well as provide adequately trained teachers for all students to achieve the statutorily required educational goals. This merely ensures that they are budgeting first for instruction before any other secondary function is funded. In other words, the cost of that 2nd or 4th or 6th Suburban will not come before their primary function embedded in the accounting code “instruction.”

  • Focus on At-Risk Kids. Sen. Pilcher-Cook offered an amendment that would have targeted $50m to at-risk students by increasing the at-risk weighting from .484 to .548. The Pilcher-Cook amendment would have meant more dollars towards instruction, since only 51 percent of every dollar that is put into the BASE actually every makes its way into the classroom.

Unfortunately, both of these amendments failed. These reforms would have helped to end the endless cycle of litigation and targeted dollars to at-risk children. 

SB 142 ultimately passed 32-8 and now heads to the Kansas House, which is considering separate legislation dealing with school finance.
Senate Addresses Utility Rates; Passes Bill Creating Rate Study
This week, the Senate took an important step towards addressing high utility rates in Kansas by passing Sub for SB 69, which authorizes an independent $1.0 million study of retail rates charged by public utilities, which will be completed by 2020. The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC), the state’s utility regulator, would have to cooperate with the organization hired to conduct the study. Sub SB 69 requires the study to be paid for by utility companies.

This legislation was created in response to Kansas having some of the highest utility rates in the region and is intended to provide information to the Legislature in order to protect ratepayers. 
Principled Focus: Insisting on a Quality Education for all Kansas Children
Each week, the Truth Report will highlight one of our Principled Priorities, which were recently adopted by our membership.

The Kansas Truth Caucus Principled Priorities state:

Insisting on a Quality Education for All Kansas Children
We strongly support a child-focused approach to education policy, rather than a system-based approach. In doing so, we support a quality education for each child that offers families the opportunity to give their children a strong moral foundation, intellectual development, and skill sets that prepare their child for the future. We oppose excessive governmental control over teachers, curriculum, and policy. We support school-based budgeting and accountability measures to ensure oversight and so that underperforming students receive the support they deserve. We support expanding educational freedom and school choice, so families have the first voice in their child’s education that best fit their child’s needs.

This session, efforts to uphold this principle include fighting against exorbitant new funding increases and against plans that offer no new policy that directly address at-risk students. It also includes efforts, such as the Hope Scholarship Bill introduced by Rep. Renee Erickson, to expand school choice to students trapped in environments that are holding them back.