Wednesday, January 24, 2018

2018 Kansas Legislative Update - Week 2

Caryn Tyson, Republican, 12th District State Senator

2018 Session – Second Week

Caryn Tyson
Evidently, the Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) has been distributing funds they are not authorized.  The Legislative Division of Post Audit conducts audits that provide the Legislature with accurate, unbiased information on the performance of the government.  The Legislative Division of Post Audit has reported the KSDE has been distributing transportation funding which is not authorized in statute.  The report states, “For the most part, KSDE has allocated transportation funding in accordance with the statutory formula, with one significant exception.”  In 1973, the legislature removed a minimum funding amount “but KSDE has continued to implement it [the minimum funding amount] for the most densely populated districts.”  For over 40 years the Kansas Department of Education has disregarded the change and has been distributing more transportation funding than allowed by law to select school districts.  This may not sound like a big deal but in the past five years, $45 million more than allowed by law was given by KSDE to less than 30 of the 128 school districts.  Last year $9.7 million over statute was sent by KSDE to 25 of the largest school districts.  Wichita was sent $2.9 million more than allowed by law.  How could this happen and for so many years? 

The audit also reported Kansas Department of Education is not counting students properly for transportation funding as defined by statute.  The Kansas Department of Education is counting all students who live 2.5 miles or more from a school district.  However, as defined by statute, they are only allowed to count students who live 2.5 miles or more and for whom the school is providing transportation.  The report stated this “likely has a minimal effect on funding.”  Even a minimal effect should be of concern. 

The Federal tax cuts are kicking in.  Utility companies explained to the Senate Tax Committee how the Federal corporate income tax cuts passed in December 2017 will result in savings that the utility companies will pass on to their consumers.  There is a process that utility companies must follow when increasing or decreasing your utility rates.  Companies have begun that process with the Kansas Corporation Commission.  We appreciate the diligence of the process when our rates are going up, but we must be patient when rates are going down.  It could be several months before we see a reduction in our bills.  However, the companies assured the Committee all of the money saved from the tax cuts will be passed on to their customers.   Utility companies that are co-ops reported they do not pay corporate income tax so there will not be changes to their rates. 

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