April 6, 2016

Kansas public education is foundation for economic growth
New KCEG report: Private sector wants state to re-invest in Kansas schools

Topeka – Today the Kansas Center for Economic Growth (KCEG) released a new report to explore the link between public education, a skilled workforce, and a strong economy. The report, “Kansas Public Education: The Foundation for Economic Growth,” analyzes the return-on-investment and also the cost avoidance that properly funded public education provides.

“The Kansas Legislature recently reached First Adjournment, but the debate over the state’s underfunded schools is far from over,” said Annie McKay, KCEG Executive Director. “Kansas is not investing enough to ensure public education remains responsive to workforce demands. Unfortunately, lawmakers have offered little other than stall tactics and accounting gimmicks to address the problem. The longer we fail to properly fund schools, the greater harm it will inflict on the Kansas economy.”

Among the report’s main findings:

  • Every dollar invested into Kansas’ public schools returns over $2.62 in economic benefits to the state.
  • High school graduates save the state money. The Class of 2014 may save an estimated $111 million on social safety net programs, $985 million on crime control costs, and $1.5 billion on public health costs.
  • 70 percent of community leaders and 81 percent of business leaders expect high school graduates to possess both technical and non-academic skills.
  • Though there are almost 19,000 more students, total state aid is almost $350 million below its peak in 2009 when adjusting for cost increases, and there are over 620 fewer certified teachers in Kansas public schools.

“As the leader of one of the most experienced, diversified, and respected mechanical contractors in the United States, I understand the importance of a well-trained workforce. Since our founding in 1893, our vision at U.S. Engineering Company is ‘Be the Best.’ In order to be the best, we must hire the most skilled employees. The development of that workforce starts with our schools,” said Tyler Nottberg, Chairman of the Board for the Business Alliance.

“Educating Kansas kids has a broad impact on our state economy,” said McKay. “Boosting this investment holds huge potential for the state, but Kansas’ unaffordable tax changes are making this otherwise obvious choice incredibly difficult, if not impossible.”

On Friday, March revenue collections came in yet again below estimates. For 11 of the past 12 months, Kansas has fallen short of revenue expectations. The perpetual budget crisis in Kansas is impeding on the state’s ability to adequately invest in one of the most powerful economic development tools – public education.

Read the entire report here.

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