Rep. Chuck Weber's wife Cindy was happy to complete her concealed carry class!
The role of government in the healthcare discussion is as complex as it is controversial. My wife and I have been "administrators" of five separate and distinct healthcare plans UNDER OUR OWN ROOF. My Father was enrolled in Veteran's Administration (VA) Care, my Mother is enrolled in Medicare (with a supplement), one son Billy, who has an intellectual disability (Down Syndrome) is a KanCare client, another son was enrolled in CHIP (Child Healthcare Insurance Program) and the rest of the household was enrolled in a "MarketPlace Plan," also known as "Obamacare." (They are now covered by a private plan). Providing healthcare and navigating the paperwork alone can be a nightmare!
Government has a responsibility to help provide a healthcare safety net for the disabled and elderly. But there are serious concerns about expanding Medicaid to include able-bodied adults who can work and have other health care options. Here is a statement from me about Medicaid Expansion in Kansas.
KANCARE/MEDICAID EXPANSION IN KANSAS
BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE CHUCK WEBER
I have received dozens of emails on all sides of this issue. I say “all” because we addressed Medicaid Expansion bill in the Kansas House, but really, the entire healthcare issue is multifaceted, highly complex and worth our search for solutions.
Please know that this is an issue I take very seriously and personally. I also wish to say that I understand this is a passionate issue for many people—it is for me as well!
I would like to explain why I believe KanCare/Medicaid expansion in Kansas is not a good decision for people currently on or seeking this assistance; and why it is a poor decision for Kansas taxpayers. We may not agree, but I seek a discussion and hope you will take time to listen as I have tried to listen.
The short explanation is that KanCare/Medicaid expansion will have a negative impact on the elderly, disabled, mentally ill and pregnant moms who currently receive or need services. Secondly, KanCare/Medicaid expansion will place large numbers of able-bodied adults with no dependents ahead of those who truly need KanCare/Medicaid and are not getting it now.
There are truly legitimate instances where people who cannot help themselves may need the assistance of the Government. We have FQHC’s (Federally Qualified Health Centers) around the state that can help, to a great extent, with such situations. We can and should do better, but KanCare/Medicaid expansion is not the way; it is a broad brush solution to a more refined situation. Government alone cannot solve this challenge.
Now, if you are willing, please read on. My hope is to offer you information and a perspective you may not have heard before. Frankly, there is much emotion and not enough reasonable discussion in the public square for such an important issue.
Nearby on this site is a “White Paper” from Rep. Dan Hawkins, Chairman of the Kansas House Health and Human Services Committee. As a member of the Social Services Budget Committee and a member of the KanCare Oversight Committee, I work closely with Rep. Hawkins and appreciate his insights. I offer this resource for your consideration and a “deeper look” at this important question.
First of all, people now eligible for KanCare/Medicaid are having trouble finding care. Expansion of Medicaid will place the disabled, elderly and mentally ill in line behind new beneficiaries.
As you may know, my wife and I are parents and guardians of our son Billy, born with Down Syndrome. Billy is a KanCare/Medicaid client. My widowed mother is under our care and also receives Medicaid assistance. We know firsthand from these lived realities that there is, right now, a shortage of doctors, dentists and other healthcare providers willing to take care of people like Billy and my Mom.
Why? Because what the State pays these providers—the so-called “Medicaid reimbursement rate” is at a level far below regular market rates. Simply put, professional healthcare providers cannot afford to care for KanCare/Medicaid patients at these deeply discounted reimbursement rates and still meet their own payrolls and pay their own bills.
A quick story. We have five children who were all cared for in their youth by an outstanding pediatrician who owns and operates a clinic in Wichita. He is a great doctor and offers great care. However, when Billy became a KanCare client our doctor informed us that he could no longer accept Billy because he was a KanCare client. You can imagine how we felt about this, especially since our doctor had helped us navigate a number of Billy’s Down Syndrome-related health issues and birth defects since birth. If you have children, you know all about the personal relationship you can develop with the doctor of your child.
Ironically, this same doctor recently wrote asking that I support KanCare/Medicaid expansion. During the course of our exchange he allowed that he and his associates still cannot afford to take KanCare/Medicaid patients like Billy. I understand this financial reality—I truly have a heart for small businesspeople. But who then will take on the tens of thousands of new patients if we are to expand KanCare/Medicaid if can’t serve those currently eligible?
Another story about providers. We are, right now, having trouble finding a dentist for Billy. Our regular family dentist (again, someone who used to take care of Billy and our entire family) does not accept Medicaid patients. We found another dentist office, but they dropped Billy (and other KanCare/Medicaid patients) after one year. We are still searching for a new dentist for Billy. People with special needs often have particular needs like sedation dentistry. It is virtually impossible to find such specialty services in Kansas, let alone “typical” services.
Recently in Topeka I was speaking with a spokesman for a group of Kansas dentists and asked him if he took KanCare/Medicaid patients at his office. “I used to, but not any longer,” he responded. “The ‘no-show’ rate of KanCare Medicaid patients is 60%. (No financial incentive for them to show up—the service is “free”). Also, I once filled out a reimbursement form to the Government for payment and a page was lost in transmission. All of the sudden I was ‘under investigation’ for fraud over a simple miscommunication. All this, combined with the low reimbursement rates, it’s just not worth it for me.”
These are a few on-the-ground examples that I’ve personally experienced.
Please take a few minutes to read the section in Rep. Hawkins’ White Paper entitled The Immoral Part of Medicaid Expansion. This explains the closely-related issue of the waiting list of nearly 6,000 people currently eligible for KanCare/Medicaid services.
These waiting lists are made up of two populations, Physically Disabled (PD) and Intellectually/Developmentally Disabled (IDD), like Billy. These folks are waiting for Medicaid provided Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) to help them cope and live with their disability. Kansas has been spending approximately $60 million a year to get these folks off of the waiting list and get them the HCBS services they desperately need.
With scare resources, the expansion of KanCare/Medicaid will take money from this effort and direct it to men and women who can work for their healthcare coverage.
A little-known fact is that a person working 31 hours a week at minimum wage will qualify for a “silver level” Marketplace healthcare plan with a “regular” insurance company (like Blue Cross, Blue Shield) for about $20 a month. If you are skeptical, just go to the Marketplace site (ObamaCare) and run the numbers yourself. I know this because my family was once a Marketplace client.
Finally, there are very real financial reasons for not expanding KanCare/Medicaid. See the White Paper more details on this—not the least of which is the fact that estimates for how many people will sign up for this entitlement benefit almost always exceed expectations.
The White Paper also addresses the issue of Hospital Closure, and The Crowed Out Effect and Welcome Mat Effect. The final issue about KanCare/Medicaid Expansion addresses The Cost of Medicaid Expansion to our Taxpayers. This is no small issue.
When we return to Topeka on May 1, we have many issues that will require our attention. The lobbying efforts for your tax dollars is intense. We are going to find out what our priorities are as a state. My own priority is securing the safety net—those currently on KanCare/Medicaid. Those on the waiting list. The providers of services who have not had a rate increase for nine years. In fact, they are currently operating with 4% less revenue since cuts to rates last July.
During this session in the House I have been leading an effort to re-fund community-based mental health centers (CMHC’s), which have lost $30 million in funding over the past 8-9 years. On the Social Services Budget Committee I have publicly declared that we should roll back the Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts and protect the Children’s Initiative Fund (tobacco settlement money) and protect the programs it funds.
Since I joined the legislature in January of 2016 I have asked one question every day of those groups, agencies and special interests advocating for higher taxes and more spending: How much more money do you want and what can taxpayers expect in return?
I have not signed a “no new taxes” pledge. But I am asking the hard questions on behalf of taxpayers—a great many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet. There is a lot of hard work ahead and I don’t have all the answers. What appears to be a “slam dunk” to some isn’t always what it seems. I am always open to your input. I take this job very seriously and consider it a great responsibility. Thank you for the privilege of serving.
PRAY FOR CHUCK!
Have you ever been out of work due to a layoff, company cuts or other circumstances out of your control? It's NO FUN. The downturn in aerospace manufacturing in Wichita and south-central Kansas slashed thousands of jobs. Low oil and wheat prices have taken thousands more. These are circumstances out of our control. So what can we do?
Expanding government is part of the problem. In order to help grow our economy we must decrease over-reaching regulations and mandates and push tax rates lower. Chuck understands that small businesses create jobs, not government. Small businesses employ over half of all private sector workers and are responsible for 44% of private sector payrolls in Kansas. They have also created 64% of the private sector jobs over the past 15 years. Chuck will work to support and promote new and growing businesses.
Kansas gained 4,200 non-farm jobs in February of 2017 (KS Department of Labor). The unemployment rate in Kansas rests at 4% while he national unemployment rate is at 4.7% (KS Department of Labor).
Rep. Chuck Weber with Simon's parents Sheryl and Scott Crosier
Much has been said and written about the Kansas budget, our economy and taxes. Some of it is even accurate! There is little doubt we face significant budget challenges. During my short time in Topeka, one thing rings true: the easiest vote one can make to "fix the budget" is raise taxes on hard working Kansans. Too often we've had a conservative tax plan and a liberal spending plan. Kansas needs innovative budgeting strategies to address today’s economic challenges. Economically damaging tax increases should be a last resort. We cannot tax Kansas to prosperity. And unlike the Federal Government, we cannot print more money.
Revenues into the State of Kansas (income, sales, property, excise and other taxes) are at an all-time historical high. Yet Kansas continues to spend more money while facing significant revenue headwinds with decreasing oil and agricultural commodity prices, and lost aerospace jobs which contribute to lower-than-anticipated sales tax growth. Kansas is experiencing the same budget challenges that a majority of other states are currently navigating.
Priority-based budgeting can help secure our state’s long-term financial stability. Kansas taxpayers deserve to see where their money is going and Topeka should maintain a citizen-focused perspective. During the 2016 legislative session I voted for HB 2739 which ensures that state agencies provide legislative budget committees with complete program service inventories including program function and history; intersections with other state programs; federal funding and associated requirements; priorities; potential impacts if not funded; and statutory authority.
Priority-based budgeting will give our citizen legislators, tasked with appropriating billions of dollars, the information they need to make good decisions. When asked why a program has been eliminated or another one added, hard data will be available versus anecdotal or emotional points of view.
An audit commissioned by last year's Legislature and released in early 2016 revealed significant savings can be achieved by simply better managing operations--not program cuts--just better management. I pledge to continue the fight for reforms to more efficiently and effectively deliver state services.
PAYING TAXES and "YOUR FAIR SHARE"
I have stated many times that I would not have voted for the "2012 Tax Plan," because it cut taxes too much, too fast without adequately addressing spending. That being said, I am a strong advocate of low taxes and I believe you can spend your money better and more efficiently than the Government.
The Governor has all but conceded that the small business tax exemption is going to be repealed during this session. Now the question becomes, who else will get a tax increase? There is much said about certain people "paying their fair share." Lost in this misleading rhetoric are what might be called some "inconvenient facts." What does "fair share" really mean? Here are a few points to consider based on the data.
SOURCE: Kansas Department of Revenue, CY 2015
I am pleased to engage in the Kansas tax debate. It is very possible that a "flat tax" like that in places like Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan and elsewhere might be right for Kansas. Let's be innovative in our thinking!
Expanding Medicaid in Kansas by Daniel R. Hawkins
Chair, House Health and Human Service Committee
The wrong decision for our current patients
The wrong decision for our tax payers
Define Medicaid Expansion
First let’s define what Medicaid Expansion is and is not. Medicaid Expansion is the expansion of a new population eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid Expansion is a part of ObamaCare. It was and is the center piece of Obama’s legacy. This expansion population is made up of able bodied adults age 19 to 64. They are predominately childless adults. Over half of them do not work at all. If they worked 31 hours per week at a minimum wage job they would qualify for ObamaCare and would have no need for free government health care coverage.
Medicaid Expansion has nothing to do with the Frail and Elderly, pregnant women up to 150% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL), mothers for one year after birth up to 150% of FPL, children below 250% of FPL, parents of children up to 38% FPL, disabled through Social Security Administration, those applying and waiting for disability determination, physically disabled,intellectually/developmentally disabled, traumatic brain injuries, blind and children with autism. All of these populations are currently covered under Medicaid. It is important to understand that Medicaid Expansion is strictly about providing free government healthcare to able bodied adults age 19 to 64 and you are paying the bill with your tax dollars.
The Immoral part of Medicaid Expansion
Nearly 6,000 of our most vulnerable Kansans are trapped on waiting lists. These waiting lists are made up of two populations, Physically Disabled (PD) and Intellectually/Developmentally Disabled (IDD). These folks are waiting for Medicaid provided Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) to help them cope and live with their disability. Kansas has been spending approximately $60 million a year to get these folks off of the waiting list and get them the HCBS services they desperately need. In 2016 for a short period we cleared the Physically Disabled waiting list. Resources are scarce and Medicaid Expansion will steal dollars from this effort and redirect it to the new Medicaid Expansion population which is able bodied working age adults. This is the most immoral decision that could possibly be made. How can we possibly place able bodied adults who can work in front of our most vulnerable?
The one thing I have found most displeasing in the debate about Medicaid Expansion is the hospitals and the Kansas Hospital Association. When they first started the discussion it was all about saving the small rural Critical Access Hospitals. You hardly ever hear about that any longer. Why you might ask. Due to the fact that the critical access hospitals get very little of the money. Here is the break down. Of the $645 Million that would be paid to healthcare providers in Kansas $250 million goes to hospitals. The top two hospitals (KU Med and Via Christi) get $63 Million. The top 10 hospitals get over half. The 83 critical care access hospitals only get $19 million. As you can see they stopped talking about that really quickly as not much money goes to those hospitals. Mercy Hospital the hospital in Independence would have received about $1 million from Medicaid Expansion. But, even the owner of the hospital admitted that would not have kept them open. St. Francis hospital in Topeka is set to close. They had $12.5 million in loss in 2015. If Medicaid Expansion would have happened in 2016 they would have received about $6 million. So, you can see Medicaid Expansion is nothing more than a band aid. St. Francis would still be underwater by $6.5 Million. Expansion will not stop hospital closings. Hospitals are closing in states that have expanded.
Crowed Out Effect and Welcome Mat Effect
What is the crowed out and welcome met effect? The crowed out effect are individuals in the expansion population that are already covered by an individual insurance plan or an employer sponsored health plan. Medicaid Expansion will cause these individuals to leave their current plan and go on the welfare style government provided health plan. The number of individuals estimated by KHI in the crowed out is 25%. Some states have run as high as 30%. So, bring in Medicaid Expansion and have the tax payers pay the bill for folks that are already covered. Does that make any sense?
The Welcome Mat effect is most easily demonstrated by the following example. We have about 70 miles of border with Missouri that is heavily populated. They are the Kansas City area and Joplin Missouri area. Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska have no plans expand Medicaid, but for now we are talking about Missouri as we have the most populated area next to them. Medicaid does not allow states to have a requirement that you have to live in the state a period of time before you can qualify for Medicaid. If Kansas were to expand Medicaid, people can move across the border and enroll in our Medicaid Expansion. You the Kansas taxpayer will be paying for people who lived in Missouri but now have the ability to get free health care in Kansas. There are no estimates for how high this could be. But just think about it, there could be as many as 25,000 or more that could move across the border from Kansas City, MO. to Kansas City, KS just to get free healthcare. You get the opportunity to pay for them.
The Cost of Medicaid Expansion to our Taxpayers
In this paper I am going to use Kansas Health Institutes (KHI) numbers on the cost of Medicaid Expansion because for some reason if you use the numbers provided by the states consultant Aon Hewitt, people want to discount them as being wrong. However, if you compare the numbers of the two studies they are very close.
In KHI’s November 2016 Issue Brief you can find all the numbers. Go online to KHI.org and you will find a brief titled PROJECTED COSTS AND ENROLLMENT OF MEDICAID EXPANSION IN KANSAS: UPDATED NUMBERS. The number of people estimated in the Expansion Population by KHI is 152,000. The state estimate is 180,000. The seven year cost of expansion to taxpayers is $729 million and $1.1 Billion is the 10 year cost to taxpayers. Aon Hewitt estimated the 10 year cost to be $1.2 Billion. The fiscal note presented by KDHE during hearings on Medicaid Expansion places the first full fiscal year FY2019 cost at $62,131,543. You see the media has been talking about this not costing the state anything. They are absolutely wrong. The Federal/State match rate for Medicaid Expansion is an enhanced match rate and is 95/5 in 2017, in 2018 it goes to 94/6, in 2019 it goes to 93/7 and in 2020 it is scheduled to go to 90/10. However, the federal government is planning to do away with the enhanced match and go to the normal FMAP which is the match rate on our current Medicaid population. The current FMAP is federal 55% and state 45%. When the match rate goes to FMAP the cost to our taxpayers will no longer be $62 million and increasing, it will be $464.5 million per year and increasing.
Other States Experience with Medicaid Expansion
Very few people want to look at the experience other states have had with Medicaid Expansion. Why? Maybe it does not look so good and would cast a bad light on their narrative. I say, let’s look at the historical facts and learn from them and not make the same mistakes. Here is a quick compilation of the enrollment experience of other states:
|ACTUAL ENROLLMENT||AS OF DATE||PERCENTAGE OVER PROJECTION|
|PERCENTAGE OVER PROJECTION|
COMBINED MAXIMUM ESTIMATE: 5,452,842
COMBINED ACTUAL ENROLLMENT: 11,466,254
AVERAGE PERCENTAGE OVER ESTIMATE: 110%
As you can see expansion states have missed the estimate of the number that would enroll. Why, because it is so hard to predict. For the State of Kansas, KHI is predicting 152,000 and Aon Hewitt is predicting 180,000. I would bet both are wrong, very wrong. If we just hit the average of other states and using the smaller KHI number of 152,000 estimated enrolled, we could have as many as 320,000 enrolled. Double the cost and now we are looking at $124 million in first full fiscal year cost to taxpayers and a 10 year cost of $2.2 Billion.
The above is not the entire story. States are hemorrhaging from the burgeoning cost of Medicaid Expansion. Let’s take a look at some of the cost overruns.
Arkansas has not only had to deal with a higher enrollment than expect, their per person costs have significantly increased under expansion. They experienced $80 million in cost overruns in their first 18 months of operation.
Colorado predicted their first 18 month cost for expansion to be $1.2 Billion. Colorado actually spent more than $1.7 Billion, a cost overrun of $500 million.
Illinois projected its expansion cost to be $2.7 Billion over its first 2 years. Actual expansion cost totaled $4.7 Billion. A 70% increase over their estimate.
Kentucky expected the expansion cost to be $1.8 Billion over the first 18 months and the actual numbers were $3.6 Billion. In 2016 they ran another $1.4 Billion over budget placing their total cost overruns thus far at $3.3 Billion.
New Mexico initially estimated expansion cost to be $1.2 Billion in the first 18 months and actual numbers were $1.8 Billion. At the beginning of this legislative year we were hearing they were under water $411 million in Medicaid funding.
Ohio’s expansion costs hit $10.1 Billion which is $4.7 Billion more than predicted. In addition they expect to be $8 Billion over budget by the end of 2017.
In West Virginia, expansion costs were expected to be $429 million in FY2015 and actual costs were $627 million.
All of the above states have had programs in existence at least 12 months. What about a few states that just expanded, how are they doing? Probably the most talked about state in the last year has been Indiana. It was touted as a red state model. So, let’s look at Indiana and see how they fared. Indiana predicted they would have fewer than 317,000 enrollees in their HIP 2.0 in their first 11 months. Their actual enrollment was 362,000 and is continuing to grow. However the big story is they have cost overruns of $285 million in the same time frame. This is the model the Hospital Association brought to Kansas in 2016 and the one they will bring back next time. Do you really think this will be good for Kansas?
Of the most recent expansion states Montana is one to watch. It is too early to know their cost. But we can look at their enrollment. Montana expected 18,600 to enroll in expansion during the first 6 months. On day one they had 20,000 enroll and within the first 5 months they were at 47,000 enrolled. I feel for them when they have to figure out where the money is going to come from to pay this bill.
I hope you can see this is not a simple issue. There are many factors that must be taken into account before making the decision to Expand Medicaid. I believe the costs to our taxpayers to be too high. The unsustainable nature of expansion as demonstrated by the states who have expanded should bring all sensible people to a quick pause and ultimately to a decision that expansion is not in the best interest of our state.
As the parents of a son with Down Syndrome, Cindy and Rep. Chuck Weber had a particular interest in seeing "Simon's Law" became the law of the land in Kansas. On April 7, 2017, Governor Brownback passed this landmark legislation.
This law stems from the experience of Sheryl and Scott Crosier, whose son Simon was born with a rare genetic disorder known as Trisomy 18. Unknown to the Crosier's, doctors at the the hospital where Simon was receiving care issued a "Do Not Resuscitate" (DNR) order. Because of this--and against their knowledge and wishes--Simon was denied adequate care (only "comfort feeding) and died a tragic death before his time. They later discovered that such practices where all-too-routine in hospitals across the country.
They mourned the loss of their son, but then the Crosier's decided to hold up their story as an example of what could happen to other parents facing similar situations with their children. As natives of Kansas, they knew many in the Kansas legislature--including Rep. Chuck Weber--would welcome the measure that stopped the practice of unilateral DNR's and exposed exposed the practice of hospital "futile care policies" dictating scenarios in which life-saving treatment is withheld or withdrawn.
Simon's Law is consistent with Chuck's belief that human life is sacred and must be protected from the moment of conception until natural death.
As a member of the Federal and State Affairs Committee in the House, Chuck was an active promoter of both Simon's Law and the new Disclose Act (HB 2319) which is a further step toward providing women about to have an abortion more information about the doctor, where he is from and other details. The Kansas Senate is expected to take up the Disclose Act when the Veto Session begins May 1.
Kansas is a recognized leader in the country for being pro-Life. Chuck has made this continued commitment to Life a cornerstone of his service to the 85th District and it has been a hallmark of his professional resume.
He has worked over the years with nationally recognized groups like the Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington, D.C., the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction and others to protect and promote the safety and dignity of human life at all stages. He recognizes that the traditional family is the bedrock of this and any other prosperous culture. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Children are not burdens but blessed fruits of marriage. Kansas is an outstanding place to raise a family--let's keep it that way!
When Religious Liberty is mentioned, Chuck thinks about the brave men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for each of us to be free to practice whatever religion we choose. Chuck's father-in-law--a man he never met--drove a combat tank in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Not everyone can protect our liberties in this way and Chuck is committed to doing what he can to preserve this precious right.
During the 2016 Session, Chuck took to the House floor as a freshman, calling for the support of SB 175, the Campus Religious Freedom bill that was eventually signed into law Criticized by some as discriminatory, Chuck dismissed this as an overreaction. "If you are Christian, should you not be able to be a part of a group that is also Christian?" asks Chuck. "If you are a Muslim, should you not be able to free to join a group that follows Islam? This is common sense to me--an extension of the First Amendment."
You can count on Chuck to defend the people of Kansas against efforts to erode our religious freedoms!
Chuck strongly supports 2nd Amendment rights allowing citizens to keep and bear arms. As a member of the Federal and State Affairs Committee, he has been defending the rights of all Kansans who can legally keep and bear arms.
Chuck is a proud supporter of gun rights--and the proud husband of his wife Cindy who recently completed her concealed carry training at the Thunderbird Firearms Academy on Webb Road, located in District 85.
Families who make the decision to educate their children outside of the public school system are intensely committed to education. They support not one school system--but two: their own as well as the public schools!
District 85 is blessed with many outstanding opportunities for an elementary or high school education in addition to the public school system. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an enrollment survey of four zip codes in and around District 85 (67002, 67206, 67226 and 67230) revealed the following:
THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO HOME SCHOOL THEIR CHILDREN OR SEND THEIR CHILDREN TO PRIVATE, INDEPENDENT, OR RELIGIOUS-BASED SCHOOLS.
Education is the "great equalizer" that allows everyone and anyone the opportunity to achieve their goals, prosper and succeed. Parents are the first and best educators of their children, working closely with teachers from public schools, Catholic and other Christian schools, private schools and of course, Home Schools.
Teachers are our most valuable resource in the classroom! Yet too often funds are diverted for administrative expenditures, unnecessary construction or other areas outside the classroom.
Kansas taxpayers invest heavily in public education, devoting more than half of the entire state budget (also known as the State General Fund, or SGF) to K-12 schools. Money is certainly a key element when it comes to a quality education, but it is not the only factor. Far too often, the education discussion in Topeka focuses on funding levels with little discussion of how funds are spent or student outcomes. The question Chuck has been asking since the first day in Topeka has been:
"How much more money is needed--and what can taxpayers
expect in return for the investment?
This question now takes on a greater urgency after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled education funding in Kansas is inadequate. Agree or disagree, Legislators must come up with an an acceptable funding formula for Kansas schools or the Court is threatening to shut down our public schools.
THE UNACCEPTABLE ACHIEVEMENT GAP--AND SOLUTIONS
It is an inconvenient fact that low-income students in Kansas consistently score far lower on tests than other students. This is unacceptable. While many legislators, myself included, believe the State Supreme Court has overstepped its authority in its latest ruling, the Court did provide a great gift. It declared that fully 25% of Kansas students are not receiving an adequate education. One fourth of Kansas students!
An education should not be based upon zip code--where one lives. This disturbing fact, perhaps more than anything else in the education discussion, is far too often simply ignored. What's needed is a new way of thinking about education where parental options and student needs come first. One size does not fit all.
Expanding school choice to allow funding to follow the student will energize and refresh ALL of our educational opportunities, spur innovation and empower parents to take a more active role in the education of their children.
Charter schools, vouchers, and other "outside the box" ideas will help us better fulfill our mission: offering the best quality education for every Kansas student!
KANSAS PUBLIC EDUCATION FACTS YOU MAY NOT KNOW