"I will tell the people what's going on at the statehouse. I'm going to treat the capitol as a borderline crime scene. ... If businesses don't have to pay taxes, the burden should not be on those trying to feed themselves." - The Valley Falls Vindicator & Oskaloosa Independent, March 3, 2016.

Across Kansas the top 1% are looting and on-the-loose, pitting us against each other. Communities in Jefferson County need to democratically prepare themselves for food and energy autonomy.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ann Mah's Newsletter, Post-Galapagos Island Vacation, New Tax Plan Details & More

Neighborhood News from Ann Mah
Dear Michael Caddell, 
Today is day 110 of the 2017 session and there has been movement at the capitol! See details below.

Larry and I just returned from a vacation in the Galapagos Islands. Amazing place and Larry has hundreds of awesome pictures to prove it!
In This Issue
Quick Links
School funding
SB 19 creates a new school funding formula. It passed the House 67-55 and the Senate 23-17.  It is on the Governor's desk for his consideration. He can sign it, veto it, or let it become law without his signature. He has made no formal statement about his intentions that I'm aware of.

The formula looks very similar to our old funding formula in terms of base state aid plus factors for those things that cause extra cost. It adds $195 million to school funding for the coming year and another $98 million in 2019. After that, increases would be based on a consumer price index adjustment and add about $55 million a year.

There was still wide disagreement on the bill as some say it will not meet the constitutional muster required by the court. Those supporting the bill say they believe it does meet the court's order, especially in the area of students not reaching proficiency, and we should send it and let the Justices decide. The court set a date of June 30 to get a formula in place and approved. Once it gets out of the capitol and to the court, there still has to be time allowed for the parties involved to weigh in. Not a done deal yet.

Here are some of the key elements of the bill:
  • Base state aid goes to $4006 per pupil in 2017-18; $4128 in 2018-19; and up to $4317 by the 2020-21 school year. Opponents noted the aid after five years would still be less than in 2009.
  • The student count will be based on the prior year or second prior year's enrollment, whichever is higher. Now they do a count in September of the current year. The idea being that going forward districts will know the count funding is based on before budgets have to be set.
  • Funding for at-risk students will be determined based on number of students in poverty, as in the past, but with increased funding per pupil. All at-risk aid must be spent on at-risk students as defined by the State Board of Education.
  • Every school district will have a floor of 10% at-risk students, whether they actually have that many students in poverty or not. I'm guessing this was put in the bill to send extra money to richer districts in Johnson County who have complained for years they don't get enough money per student.
  • The bill expands funding for scholarships for private schools starting July 2018. Currently, only corporations may donate to private schools for tax credits. This bill allows private individuals to also get those tax credits. It also changes eligibility to students on free lunch at the 100 lowest performing schools, which is an increase from the 91 eligible schools previously. It also adds an accreditation requirement by July 2020.
  • The state will pay for all-day kindergarten and add $2 million to help more 4-year-old at-risk students attend pre-k.
  • They added $12 million to special education funding.
  • They added $800,000 for teacher mentoring and $1.7 million for professional development.
  • Slight increase in transportation funding so that no district will receive less than in the past.
  • The statewide 20-mill levy for schools will remain in place.
  • The local option budget remains the same. School districts can levy up to 30% on school board action alone. They can go up to 33% with board approval and right of protest petition.
  • Utilities, property and casualty insurance will be added as options for capital outlay funding in the school district republishes their capital outlay resolution.
  • Currently, Kansas pays for some out-of-state students in towns along our border. Funding for those students gets reduced to .5 by 2021-22.
  • Puts a cap on the amount of bonds approved by the State Board of Education based on the bond amount paid off the preceding year.
Tax bill becomes law
The Brownback tax plan of 2012 came to an end last night when the House and Senate both voted to override the Governor's veto of SB 30. The bill increases taxes by $591 in the 2018 fiscal year and $633 million in the 2019 fiscal year. This would cover the budget passed by the Senate earlier as well as the school funding increases. There could still be problems a couple of years out.
Here are the key points of the tax bill:
  • New tax brackets:
    marrieds-filing-jointly with $30,000 and less (now 2.7%) to 2.9% for this tax year and 3.10% for tax year 2018; $30,000 to $60,000 (now 4.6%) to 4.9% for the current tax year and 5.25% for tax year 2018, and more than $60,000 (now 4.6%) to 5.2% for this tax year and 5.7% for tax year 2018 and after. This restores the third tax bracket for higher incomes. Note that these final tax brackets are lower than where they were in 2012.
  • It eliminates the tax-free status of non-wage income from LLCs, chapter S subcorps, and sole proprietor businesses.
  • These businesses can also begin claiming certain non-wage business income losses aligning with federal tax law.
  • Medical expenses can again be itemized at 50.0 percent of expenses currently allowed under federal law for tax year 2018. The amount would be increased to 75.0 percent of the federal amount for tax year 2019 and to 100.0 percent in tax year 2020 and thereafter.
  • Itemized deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes, currently set at 50.0 percent of the federal amounts, increases to 75.0 percent for
    tax year 2019 and to 100.0 percent beginning in tax year 2020.
  • A child and dependent care tax credit repealed in 2012 is restored in stages. The credit is set at 12.50 percent of the federal amount
    for tax year 2018, 18.75 percent for tax year 2019, and 25.00
    percent for tax year 2020 and thereafter.
  • The low-income exclusion threshold is reduced from $12,500 to
    $5,000 for married filers and from $5,000 to $2,500 for single
Budget undecided
The Senate has passed a budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal years, but the House has not. The House Appropriations Committee continues its work on that. This is the last thing between the Legislature and the end of the session, assuming the Governor doesn't veto the school funding bill. More to follow, and likely quickly as funding for the Legislature itself runs out.
Community Calendar
If you have community events coming up, let me know.  This email goes to nearly 3000 homes in Shawnee, Osage, Jefferson, Wabaunsee, Pottawatomie, and Douglas counties. I'd love to help you get the word out!  Just remember to send your activities ahead of time.    
  • Thursday, June 8: Jefferson Co Democrats meet at 7 pm at the Oskaloosa Public Library.
  • Fri-Sat., June 9-10: Rodeo and Mutton Bustin' at the Overbrook Fairgrounds at 8 pm.
  • Saturday, June 10: Free movie night at Highland Heights Christian Church, 2930 SE Tecumseh Rd. Showing "Home Run". Doors open 5:30; show 6 pm.
  • June 2,3,4,9,10,11: Day Out with Thomas the Train at the Midland Railway, 1515 High St, Baldwin City. Call 785-594-6982 or at www.midlandrailway.org. 
  • Monday, June 12: Perry Senior Citizens lunch at noon at the Perry Community Building. Bring dish to share, table service and $1.
  • June 22-23: Garage sale to benefit the I Care Food Pantry at Southern Hills Mennonite Church, 511 SE 37th St. in Topeka.
  • Saturday, June 24: Independence Day parade in Scranton. 6:30-9:30 am Biscuit & Gravy Feed at the Community Building. 9:30 am parade staging at the school. 10 amparade.
  • Tuesday, July 4: Overbrook 4th of July celebration: Kid's Bike Parade, free swim, DJ music, and a great fireworks show!
  • Sunday, July 23: Performing Art Series concert at the Overbrook Library Community Room at 3 pm.
  • Friday, July 28: Shawnee Heights Public Schools Foundation golf tournament at Shawnee Country Club to benefit scholarships and classroom grants. To register to sponsor or play, go to www.shawneeheightsfoundation.net.
  • Saturday, August 5: National Night Out Against Crime. 60 neighborhoods are registered already. For information, contact Judy Wilson at jwilson@safestreets.org
  • Saturday, August 12: Getting Up from the Fall 5k Run/Walk at 9 am at the Carbondale Ball Diamonds. Proceeds to benefit Nancy Fike, who is battling Stage 4 Leimyosarcoma of the liver. For information, go to www.gettingupfromthefall.com or contact Emily Roberts at eroberts24@yahoo.com.
  • Monday, Sept. 11: Culpepper & Merriweather Circus sponsored by the Carbondale Lions Club. Shows at 5 and 7 pm. Advance tickets available from Lions Club members or call 785-836-7887.
  • Saturday, Sept. 16: Pre-Fall Festival street dance from 7-11 pm in Carbondale.
  • October 12-14: Carbondale Fall Festival. For advertising and sponsorships, contact Pat Barr at 836-7596. For vendor info call Mary Burgett 836-7887.
  • Farmer's Market every Tuesday through September at the Auburn Presbyterian Church parking lot from noon to 5:30 pm.
  • Carbondale Farmers' Market at the city park every Wednesday from May 24 through September from 4-6:30 pm
  • Swap meet at Premier Farm & Home last Saturday of the month from March to October from 7 am to noon. 900 SW University Blvd (across from Forbes Field). No fee to set up.  No goats. 
  • Kansas Prairie Pickers meet to jam the fourth Sunday of each month from 1 to 5 pmat the Auburn Community Center. Free music. No jam in December. 
  • CARE meets monthly on the second Thursday at the KNEA building, second floor, at 2 pm. For retired teachers or Kansans interested in advocating for education. For info: Larry Brayton at larrydene@cox.net
  • Enjoy BUNCO at the Carbondale Community Building once a month on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.  Call 785-836-7478 for details about dates, prizes, treats, etc. 
  • The Berryton Pickers are at Berryton Baptist Church the first Saturday of the month from 7 to 9 pm.  Bring snacks and have some fun!
  • Country and ballroom dancing at Croco Hall on Thursday nights from 6 to 9 pm.  For information call Edwina Hamersky at 379-9538.
  •  First Saturday of the month community breakfast buffet at Shawnee Heights United Methodist Church.  7:30 to 10 am.  Free will offering.
A friend of mine is doing an informal survey on interest in having a Papa Murphy's Pizza store near 29th and Croco. If you have an opinion about that, call Dick Laird at 785-423-1540.
Ann Mah

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