PRESENTATION ON K-12 EDUCATION FUNDING
On Friday February 23rd, Dr. Lori L. Taylor gave a preliminary presentation to a joint session of the Kansas Senate and House of Representatives on the methods, data, and analysis plan for her research on K-12 education funding in Kansas. Dr. Taylor was hired by the Legislature in December to act as an expert witness and to investigate whether Kansas’ K-12 funding is adequate. This comes after the Kansas Supreme Court declared the current funding level is not enough and gave the legislature an April 30th deadline to create a new funding system. The school districts that are suing the state claim that $600 million more is needed to properly fund schools. The legislature hopes Dr. Taylor’s report will show that funding is adequate and help end years of school finance litigation between the courts and legislature.
Taylor, a native Kansan, holds a BA in economics and a BS in business administration from the University of Kansas and received her PhD in economics from the University of Rochester.
She is currently a professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and works as the Director for Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy. Taylor’s research is focused in school finance and she has consulted for numerous state legislatures and state and federal agencies on the topic.
During Friday’s presentation, Taylor outlined her study’s objective to estimate the level of spending required to produce a given outcome within a given educational environment. Taylor explained that she is looking at many different factors of school finance such as differences in spending, student outcomes, student needs, labor costs, geographical differences, and many other variables. One major variable Taylor will investigate in her research is student achievement relative to spending per pupil. Taylor is expected to deliver her results to the Legislature by March 15th, a few weeks before the court mandated deadline.
TASK FORCE ON SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER
On Thursday, Governor Jeff Colyer issued an executive order creating a task force addressing substance use disorder. The objective of the task force is to gather information regarding substance abuse in Kansas, particularly regarding the growing number of opioid and heroin overdoses in the state along with methamphetamine addiction. The task force will work to find useful resources and initiatives to fight drug abuse. It will also examine practices for prevention and treatment along with recovery options for at-risk individuals through early detection and education. The task force will be chaired by Dr. Greg Lakin, Chief Medical Officer at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Membership will be comprised of heads from numerous state agencies, legislators, and professionals in industries such as education, law enforcement, hospitals, and more.
Since 2012, more than 1,500 Kansans have died from opioid or heroin overdoses and more than 100 Kansas residents continue to die each year. In 2016, drug poisoning was the cause of death to more than 300 people in Kansas, with 95 deaths caused by methamphetamine alone. The task force acknowledges that substance abuse is an illness which not only impacts the lives of those addicted but also their families and surrounding communities.
The Kansas Department of Transportation Division of Aviation along with the Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education (KCAE) held their 4th annual Aviation Day event Thursday. The day began with an economic development training event for city officials on how to best harness state and local resources to boost the aviation industry. During the Aviation Day event, legislators, manufacturers, suppliers, and aviation organizations gathered to discuss industry growth and opportunities and addressed development potentials for Kansas economic stakeholders. The Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education highlighted industry development opportunities throughout the day, spreading awareness regarding STEM and aviation education through KCAE.
FROM THE STATE LIBRARY
Consumer Health Complete covers all areas of health and wellness. Did your doctor prescribe a new medication? Recently diagnosed with diabetes? Look it up here. Designed for the everyday consumer, this online database offers popular reference books, medical encyclopedias, fact sheets, and magazine articles. This full text database covers topics such as aging, nutrition, cancer, fitness, drugs & alcohol, even yoga. You can find more information at http://kslib.info/ConHealth.
FOLLOW THE KANSAS LEGISLATURE
Both the House and Senate have taken historic steps towards the promotion of open government. For the first time, you can view video streaming of both chambers via the Kansas Legislature YouTube page. In addition, many committees are now audio streamed. YouTube Streaming: http://bit.ly/2CZj9O0 Committee Hearings: http://sg001-harmony.sliq.net/
Kansas residents can access information on legislation, legislative procedure, state government, public policy issues and more by calling 1-800-432-3924. Calls are answered by experienced reference/research librarians at the State Library of Kansas and kept confidential. Lines are open weekdays 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Callers can also leave brief messages to be delivered to legislators as well as request copies of bills, journals, and other legislative documents. In addition to calling the hotline, residents can also text questions to 785 256-0733, email or instant message at kslib.info/ask. The State Library is located on the 3rd floor, north wing of the Capitol.
THANK YOU FOR ENGAGING
Thank you for all of your calls, emails, and letters regarding your thoughts and concerns about happenings in Kansas. I always encourage you to stay informed of the issues under consideration by the Kansas Legislature. Committee schedules, bills, and other helpful information can be easily accessed through the legislature’s website at www.kslegislature.org. You are also able to ‘listen in live’ at this website. The House meets at 11:00 a.m. and the Senate at 2:30 p.m. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions. An email is the best at this point in the session.
Thank you for the honor of serving you!
Senator Elaine Bowers
Kansas State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th St.
Topeka, KS 66612