Guest Commentary, Part One: End the March to Zero

Mark Desetti, Kansas-National Education Association
November 16, 2016

Kansas has a long history of supporting public education, going back to the 1870s, when a compulsory school attendance law was passed. That law stated that “education was key to the state’s growth and development, since a literate and skilled citizenry could help build business and industry.” That’s still true today, and the link between education and economic growth endures.

Four years ago, we were promised a brighter future for Kansans, including stable funding for our schools. Instead, public education struggles with both stability and adequacy of funding, and our students pay the price. K-12 schools across the state have increased class sizes, eliminated staff positions and programs, and dropped days from the school calendar.

The Kansas tax plan is broken, and the impact of this is felt most keenly by our youngest residents. We owe it to them to fix it, and put into place a balanced tax system that will build strong communities, support quality services, and encourage economic development.

One of the most dangerous elements of the 2012 tax plan is the “March to Zero.” This signature component of the governor’s tax plan limits state spending growth so severely that maintaining funding of basic services is threatened, let alone investing in our critical services such as education, public safety, highways, and health care.

Though the spending cap won’t be realized until fiscal year 2020, we’ve already seen the dire consequences of the beginning of the March to Zero. The 10% reduction in income tax revenue since 2012 has already wreaked havoc on Kansas communities.

KNEA believes that the Kansas Legislature must establish a tax system that is fair to both businesses and individuals and provides for the needs of the state through good and bad economic times.

If we want to invest in future generations of Kansans, we can’t afford the March to Zero.

We have an opportunity now to return to a stable, dependable, and fair tax system, and we urge new and returning lawmakers to make this a priority. Kansas students today and the future workforce of tomorrow depend on it.

To learn more, read the “March to Zero” one-pager.

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Lisa OwenGuest Commentary, Part One: End the March to Zero