an opportunity to find other eduction cuts
In "Flawed budget by the weak-willed," the Herald-Leader correctly opines that the proposed budget coming out of the House this week "is the kind of budget Kentucky can expect when lawmakers lack the backbone to do the right thing on comprehensive tax reform." It is a budget that completely refuses to address the real problem while it looks for more band aids to slap on its structural imbalances.
Rather than providing solid stewardship over the state, our legislative leaders seem to prefer short-term tactics that serve their own interests - reelection. The proposed plan completely fails to fix the tax structure. Instead, it cuts higher education; reduces school days (while some claim it doesn't matter); and heaps more long-term burden on the public to cover short-term necessities.
And there is absolutely no reason to believe the General Assembly will complete tax reform in the 2011 short session with its enhanced procedural requirements for budgetary legislation. If that pushes legislators back yet another year, legislators will once again face reelection concerns. And the cycle continues.
Yesterday, Kentucky Board of Education Chair Joe Brothers fired off a direct plea to the General Assembly since they seem to have have been deliberately ignoring similar pleas from multiple other sources, including Commissioner Terry Holliday.
House leaders told H-L that they "would have been open to hearing such ideas." But Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said that as far as he knows no one from the school board came to the House while it was considering its budget to offer any solutions. Stumbo said he would welcome any ideas to save more money.
March 11, 2010
Dear Members of the General Assembly:
Members of the Kentucky Board of Education are extremely concerned about the effect of House Bill 290 (the budget bill) to eliminate two days of instruction from Kentucky’s public school year. The board members strongly support the recent remarks by Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday, in which he said, “Shortening the year by two days would move us backward.”
Additionally, media attention on legislative action to remove two instructional days from the school calendar could adversely affect Kentucky’s consideration for federal funding of up to $200 million as a finalist in the Race to the Top competition. General spending reductions by the other state finalists for this grant competition are a common issue and should not attract national attention for Kentucky. However, reducing instructional time is likely to damage Kentucky’s position compared to the other state finalists, as none of the other 15 are reducing instructional time!
While the members of the board understand and support the legislature’s difficult task to balance the state budget, we strongly urge you to look for other sources of funds to help fill the deficit than eliminating the two instructional days.
Thank you for all of the fine work you have done to improve education, including Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 176. If the same collaborative process that produced these pieces of legislation is applied to this issue, we are confident that you will be able to determine an alternative solution.
We welcome further dialogue with you and other partners on this matter.
Joe Brothers, Chair
Kentucky Board of Education
(Sent at the request of members of the Kentucky Board of Education)
cc: Terry Holliday
Meanwhile, Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said the state could save as much money by cutting K-12 education funding by about 1.5 percent instead of taking away two instructional days.We're getting lots of bad messages out of Frankfort these days. The messages say that we can expect more of the same in the future.
"There are many people who are concerned that taking away two instructional days sends a bad message," he said.