April 27, 2023


TOPEKA, KS – During this session alone, Republicans in the state legislature have led several efforts to cut funding from Kansas public schools. This is not in line with the needs and wants of Kansas parents, teachers, and students who do not want to see funding taken away from public schools. In fact, most want more funding to go towards our public schools, including full funding of special education programs.

“Despite the wants and needs of their own constituents across the state, Republicans in the legislature have continued to look for ways to cut public education funding,” said KDP Chair Jeanna Repass. “Kansas parents don’t want to return to the days of four-day school weeks or outdated resources for our students, yet that is what some Republicans in the state legislature are advocating for. We all want our students to succeed, but attempts to cut funding in Kansas public schools limit our students’ ability to do that. We must send a message to those in the legislature: keep your hands off public school funding.”

It can be hard to keep track of the many bills and policies that would strip Kansas public schools of funding. Below is a breakdown of those efforts from this legislative session alone: 

  • Vouchers:
    • This session, Kansas Republicans passed a bill that would have directed $150 million in public education funds to private, unaccountable schools. This is also known as a voucher program. This would not be Republicans’ first – or last – attempt to bring a voucher program to Kansas: they are now on their third version of this bill, proving just how motivated they are to hurt our public schools.
    • Vouchers would have a particularly negative impact on our rural school districts, many of which don’t have a single private school within their communities.
    • Legislative leaders have ignored the massive bipartisan opposition to vouchers, and this bill was so unpopular it was only passed via a “call of the House,” in which Republican leadership manipulated members into voting for it. Despite the opposition to this policy, Republicans in the legislature are now trying to revive vouchers in the K-12 budget bill.
    • The Kansas Senate has also attempted to expand a program that allows millionaires to write off donations to private schools that siphons taxpayer dollars away from public schools. Originally narrowly tailored to benefit at-risk students, this program has been expanded multiple times to further help fund private, unaccountable schools. Anti-public education legislators have demonstrated that they will take narrowly tailored, targeted programs and expand them incrementally to chip away at funding for our public schools.
  • Constitutional Funding:
    • Republicans in the legislature advocated for a policy that would remove requirements for K-12 funding that automatically increases funding to align with constitutional requirements.
    • Removing these requirements essentially guarantees that the state legislature will fail to fully fund schools in future years, and would cut millions of dollars from public education.
    • This provision was removed from the current K-12 budget bill because of its extreme unpopularity and opposition from educational advocates once it was revealed that it would threaten to cut over $215 million in education funding.
  • Refusing to Fully Fund Special Education:
    • Despite support on both sides of the aisle and pleas from parents across the state, Republicans in the legislature have failed to put Kansas on track to fully fund special education and fulfill our statutory requirements.
    • Governor Laura Kelly and Democrats in the legislature have called to fully fund special education because they believe every child, regardless of their needs, deserves the opportunity to thrive in the classroom.
  • Flat Tax Will Take Kansas Back to Brownback: 
    • The Republican-led passage of Senate Bill 169, which calls for a flat tax of 5.15 percent to be applied to all Kansas taxpayers regardless of income, would cost the state $1.5 billion over the next three years.
    • This policy threatens to take our state back to the days of underfunded public schools common during the Brownback era’s failed “tax experiment,” during which public education was first on the chopping block, and the cuts it caused hurt an entire generation of Kansas students.