House Bill 2457

I was asked my first “tough” question today…which really wasn’t all that bad and I immediately knew my answer because I’ve been doing my homework…

I was asked about my thoughts on House Bill 2457…

I don’t like it! I would not support this bill because I support and believe in our Kansas public schools and the high quality of education that they provide to Kansas children.

The scholarship program, which was enacted in 2014, allows corporations to donate to scholarships for students (those attending a Title 1 public school and have been identified as at-risk) for a 70% corporate income tax credit (credit, not a deduction). At a quick glance, HB 2457 wants to,

  1. extend the tax credit given to 100% and remove the ‘corporate income’ tax liability (we’ve already seen what eliminating 100% of business income tax can do, why would extending this to individuals be a good idea?),
  2. change eligibility to be based on family income (income does not exceed 250% of the federal poverty level — which for a family of four is about $60,000),
  3. allow the scholarship to be used by students in private schools, and
  4. it also wants to increase the credits allowed from $10,000,000 to $12,500,000 per tax year (when not even a $1 million has been utilized).

The Kansas Constitution requires the legislature to provide an adequate and equitable public education for Kansas children. If parents want to send their children to private schools, that is fine, but I would contend that the Olathe School District provides a level of education not attainable at a private school, and I don’t agree that taxpayers should be financing private schools (that’s an entirely different conversation to have). In fact, Article 6, Section 6, Part C of the Kansas Constitution states that “No religious sect or sects shall control any part of the public educational funds.” Expanding the scholarship eligibility and tax credit enters a rather gray area where potential revenue to the state is diverted to a religious school.

My final thought on the topic — If I choose to walk instead of taking the public bus, I’m not going to ask the government to buy my tennis shoes.