TOPEKA – Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed fiscal year 2012 budget would decrease the amount the state spends on base state aid per student.
While the amount, which is typically used when discussing the amount the state spends on schools, would decrease overall, state k-12 spending would increase, the administration said Thursday.
Brownback’s office unveiled his budget proposal in presentations to the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Per pupil base state aid would decrease to $3,780 from the current $4,012 per student. But, the administration argued, overall public school spending would increase $129 million.
By including all money the state sends to schools – such as money for bond payments and teacher retirements – Brownback’s proposal calculates that state spending per student would increase to $4,743 from $4,549 in the current budget.
“We want to get away from talking about a small amount of money that goes to our schools,” Brownback’s Director of Policy Landon Fulmer told the House Appropriations Committee.
Money going to bonded indebtedness and teachers’ retirement payments were taking away from money going into the classroom, he said.
The budget also trims $9.2 million by eliminating eight state agencies. Most of the duties of those agencies are simply shifted into other departments. The cost savings come from eliminating administrative duties.
Among the agencies being eliminated are the Kansas Health Policy Authority, which was created by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. The agency will be merged into the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Programs that the authority currently administers, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and State Employee Health Benefits Program will become part of the Division of Health for a savings of $1 million.
The responsibility of promoting Kansas tourism will shift from the Department of Commerce to the state Department of Wildlife and Parks.
Overall, the budget proposal increased spending from the state general fund to $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1, from $5.7 billion in the current budget.
The all-funds budget — which includes money from the federal government — would increase from the $13.7 billion approved last spring by lawmakers to $13.9 billion.
For more, read Thursday’s Wichita Eagle.