30 Mar Special Ed Funding Stalls 2011 Recission Bill Again (KS)

March 30, 2011

By: Paul Soutar
Source: Kansas Wa tchdog

The conference committee on the 2011 budget rescission is again stuck on maintenance of effort (MOE) in special education funding.

Committee Chairman Marc Rhodes said today’s committee meeting lasted just five minutes because an apparent agreement reached Tuesday collapsed. “I basically said, when you’re ready to be serious, because they know our position, then let us know.”

Rhoades told Kansas Watchdog, “We are done with that for a while because the conceptually agreed upon idea for meeting maintenance of effort (MOE) in special education was basically summarily rejected.”

Both sides currently agree that the state needs to maintain or increase special education funding so future federal special ed funding will not be jeopardized. A key difference is that the Senate wants to provide an additional $26 million now rather than wait until later in the fiscal year to get a better idea of how much additional funding is needed.

The House is adamant, according to Rhoades, that Governor Brownback’s FY2011 rescission budget cuts not fall below $35 million. “The house is wanting to capture those dollars because the Governor has already built that $35 million into next year’s budget. When he says his 2012 budget gives us an end balance of  $7.5 million, that’s taking into account the $35 million he captures for 201 1. If we don’t do that, which we maintain we will, then we’re already underwater for 2012 and we’d have to do additional cuts for 2012.”

“Tuesday we came up with something that we agreed on in the governor’s office that I thought conceptually was pretty clear,” Rhoades said. “Now they’re saying they didn’t agree to any of that because they didn’t see the language but we knew conceptually what it would do and we had that conversation.”

Proponents of an immediate fix say the state stands to lose as much as $100 million in future federal special education payments by not appropriating as much or more than was appropriated last year. The governor’s rescission proposal reduces special education funding to about $26 million short of MOE requirements according to Senate and Kansas State Department of Education claims.

The House prefers to wait to see how much is actually needed then borrow that amount from a scheduled $69 million Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) payment to schools. “When we know what the number is – on April 15 or May 30 or whenever it is – we take it out of a KPERS then we come back and pay KPERS back off the base (state aid per pupil – BSAPP). If it’s $26 million like they maintain, it would be about $40 more off the base.”

Rhoades recognized that further cuts to BSAPP are very unpopular with many in the Senate and education officials but options are limited he said. “You’d think $40 off the base to get $100 million over whatever time period, which one do you want? Do you want the $100 million or do you not want to take the base (loss) because at this point we don’t have any place else to take it from.”

The total potential loss of federal special education dollars has not been determined.

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