Will schools tap unused funds?

From Kansas Reporter:

Kansas House Education Budget committee members voted Monday to give schools across the state more flexibility to replace their shares of $85.9 million federal educational stimulus money that is scheduled to vanish next year.

That’s good news, both for schools and for taxpayers. Schools get more money to spend, and taxpayers don’t have to incur as much of a tax increase–or maybe none at all. Whether that happens, though, is likely to be affected by the overall budget plan, which the Legislature is debating (again) today.

But the interesting question is “why does federal stimulus money need to replaced anyway?”

Kansas got into this situation through a series of steps. Last year, the federal money helped the state avoid cutting spending (in education or elsewhere), raising taxes, or dipping even more into reserves. In other words, it was a delay tactic, a short-term tactic based on the assumption that tax revenues would sufficiently increase over the following months.

And before that, the state got into that situation because legislators were unable to agree on ways to cut spending in non-education portions of the budget. And before that, the Kansas Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to spend more on schools. And before that … and that … and that.

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