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Minutes for HB2550 - Committee on K-12 Education Budget

Short Title

Establishing the student empowerment act to provide education savings accounts for certain students to use to attend participating private schools.

Minutes Content for Tue, Feb 1, 2022

Chairperson Williams opened the hearing on HB 2550

Nick Myers, Revisor from the Kansas Office of Revisor of Statutes, reviewed HB 2550 bill brief with the Committee. (Attachment 1)

Mr. Myers took questions from the Committee.

Dave Trabert, Kansas Policy Institute, provided testimony in support of HB 2550.  Mr. Trabert noted that there is an urgent need for better education opportunities.  He noted that there is evidence that educational choice created better opportunities and improved outcomes.  He also highlighted that education choice critics have perpetrated a long list of myths. (Attachment 2)

Mr. Trabert responded to questions from the Committee.

Jason Bedrick, EdChoice, provided testimony in support of HB 2550. He spoke that public education is to ensure that every single child has access to high-quality education that meets their individual learning needs and that policymakers should empower families to choose the learning environment that is the right fit for their child, no matter where they live. (Attachment 3)

Mr. Bedrick responded to questions from the Committee.

Chairperson Williams noted to the Committee that the Fiscal Note has been received for HB 2550.

Chairperson Williams noted proponent written testimony was received from Elizabeth Patton, Kansas State Director for Americans for Prosperity. (Attachment 4)

Written testimony in support of HB 2550 was received by:

Bob Corkins, Chief FPA Lobbyist, Frontier Peace Advisors (Attachment 5)

Lucrecia Nold, Public Policy Specialist, Kansas Catholic Conference (Attachment 6)

Chairperson Williams noted neutral written testimony for HB 2550 was received by:

Thomas Witt, Executive Director, Equality Kansas (EQKS) (Attachment 7)

Jocelyn Gunter, Director, Office of Accounts and Reports, Kansas Department of Administration (Attachment 8)

Lynn Rogers, Kansas State Treasurer, provided testimony in opposition to HB 2550.  He noted that he is opposed to this bill due to the difficulty to meet the projected implementation date, high administrative costs, limited auditing scope and other concerns outlined in his written testimony. Mr. Rogers also submitted outstanding questions in his written testimony raised by his staff as they consider implementation of this program. (Attachment 9)

Mr. Rogers responded to questions from the Committee.

Mark Tallman, Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB), provided testimony in opposition to HB 2550. He noted that KASB believes the bill provides no assurances it will improve the educational outcomes of any students and could harm the educational opportunities of students in public schools. (Attachment 10)

Mr. Tallman responded to questions from the Committee.

Michael Poppa, Mainstream Coalition, provided testimony in opposition to HB 2550. He noted that the bill is a transparent attempt to fund private educational institutions with public tax money.  Even though the bill is portrayed for students in need, he noted there were no guarantees that these students would actually benefit. (Attachment 11)

Mary Sinclair provided opponent testimony to HB 2550 on behalf of Patty Jurich, Kansas PTA President. She noted that the Kansas PTA is opposed to this bill, in alignment with their legislative platform.  She stated the Kansas PTA supports keeping public dollars in public schools and the public school system.  She noted research continues to demonstrate that private school vouchers do not improve student achievement. (Attachment 12)

Sarah Mackay, Private Citizen, provided testimony in opposition to HB 2550. She voiced her concern of the creation of educational savings accounts that use public funds to subsidize private education.  Ms. Mackay noted that public school funding per the Gannon court case is still being phased in and the state has yet to meet its special education funding obligation.  (Attachment 13)

Judith Deedy, Game On for Kansas Schools, provided testimony in opposition to HB 2550 because the bill does not further the educational interests of the children of the state of Kansas and provides public funding for private schools without imposing academic standards, accountability provisions, or admissions requirements. (Attachment 14)

Jason Anderson, Private Citizen, provided testimony in opposition to HB 2550. He noted that the bill does not help children with special needs.  The bill would only enable children without special needs to transfer public school funds into private schools at the detriment of the public schools that are required to provide equitable learning to all children.  (Attachment 15)

Caleb McNally, USD 456 Marais de Cygnes school board member, provided testimony in opposition to HB 2550. He noted the bill would put smaller schools and schools with higher percentage of at risk students in harms way.  He spoke that the prudent course of action would be to continue and restore state efforts on existing public education.  (Attachment 16)

Written Testimony as an opponent of HB 2550 was received by: 

Lauren Tice-Miller, Director of Government Relations & Elections, Kansas National Education Association (Attachment 17)

Deena Horst and Ben Jones, Kansas State Board of Education, Legislative Liaisons (Attachment 18)

Patty Carter, Director of Special Education, Kansas Association of Special Education Administrators (Attachment 19)

Joan Gilson, Olathe Public Education Network (Attachment 20)

Dr. Tonya Merrigan, Superintendent, USD 229 Blue Valley (Attachment 21)

Dr. Michelle Hubbard, Superintendent, USD 512 Shawnee Mission School District (Attachment 22)

Holly Coleman, Private Citizen (Attachment 23)

Rachel Jorgensen, Private Citizen (Attachment 24)

Kristin Shuck, Special Education Teacher, USD 500, Elementary Music Teacher, Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, NEA-KCK Vice President (Attachment 25)

Becky Plate, Private Citizen (Attachment 26)

Jennifer Shields, Private Citizen (Attachment 27)

Amy Sanchez, Private Citizen (Attachment 28)

Lori Locke, Private Citizen (Attachment 29)

Joy Koesten, Private Citizen (Attachment 30)

Colleen Cunningham, Private Citizen (Attachment 31)

Lisa Veglahn, Private Citizen (Attachment 32)

Nolan Goldberg, Private Citizen (Attachment 33)

David Sutherland, Private Citizen (Attachment 34)

Megan Hemenway, PTA President in Shawnee Mission School District (Attachment 35)

Anita Parsa, Private Citizen (Attachment 36)

Amy Voelker, Private Citizen (Attachment 37)

Gene Rardin, Private Citizen and Former State Representative, District 16 (Attachment 38)

Senia Shields, Private Citizen (Attachment 39)

Amanda Winch, Private Citizen (Attachment 40)

Jan Brunks, Private Citizen (Attachment 41)

Julie Passett, Private Citizen (Attachment 42)

Cynthia Yin, Private Citizen (Attachment 43)

Shelia Albers, Private Citizen (Attachment 44)

Amy Rider, Private Citizen (Attachment 45)

Amanda Peters, Private Citizen (Attachment 46)

Alice Capson, Private Citizen (Attachment 47)

Allison Hougland, Private Citizen (Attachment 48)

Ardith Davis, Private Citizen (Attachment 49)

Christina Stokes, Private Citizen (Attachment 50)

Colleen Connor, Private Citizen (Attachment 51)

Cynthia Lukas, Private Citizen (Attachment 52)

Dave Farson, Private Citizen (Attachment 53)

Dawn Brumbley, Private Citizen (Attachment 54)

Dawn Olney, Private Citizen (Attachment 55)

Dr. Brent Yeager, Superintendent, Olathe Public Schools (Attachment 56)

Dr. Cory Gibson, Superintendent, Valley Center School District (Attachment 57)

Dr. Craig Correll, Superintendent, Coffeyville Public Schools (Attachment 58)

Dr. Tiffany Anderson, Superintendent, Topeka Public Schools (Attachment 59)

Edna Hamera, Private Citizen (Attachment 60)

Frank Harwood, Superintendent, Desoto School District (Attachment 61)

G.A. Buie, Executive Director United School Administrators of Kansas (USA-Kansas) and Kansas School Superintendents Association (Attachment 62)

Gloria Walker, Private Citizen (Attachment 63)

Jane Gibson, Private Citizen (Attachment 64)

Jay Middleton, Private Citizen (Attachment 65)

Jeff Goodrum, Private Citizen (Attachment 66)

Jennifer Day, Private Citizen (Attachment 67)

Jennifer Juhl-Jarrell, Private Citizen (Attachment 68)

Jeri Graham, Private Citizen (Attachment 69)

Jerry Rees, Private Citizen (Attachment 70)

Joanna Commins, Private Citizen (Attachment 71)

Jordan Buxton, Board of Education Member, USD 375 Circle Public Schools (Attachment 72)

Judi Sharp, Private Citizen (Attachment 73)

June Farson, Private Citizen (Attachment 74)

Kathryn Brogden, Private Citizen (Attachment 75)

Kevin McWhorter, Private Citizen (Attachment 76)

Laura Robeson, Private Citizen (Attachment 77)

Linda Peak, Private Citizen (Attachment 78)

Lindsay Weiss, Private Citizen (Attachment 79)

Lorene Damewood, Private Citizen (Attachment 80)

Marcia Higginson, Private Citizen (Attachment 81)

Maureen Sheahan, Private Citizen (Attachment 82)

Melissa Gard, Private Citizen (Attachment 83)

Michael Miller, Private Citizen (Attachment 84)

Nancy Walter, Private Citizen (Attachment 85)

Nina Fricke, Private Citizen (Attachment 86)

Pamela Atwell, Private Citizen (Attachment 87)

Pat Gouger, Private Citizen (Attachment 88)

Pat Thomson, Private Citizen (Attachment 89)

Rachel Whitaker, Private Citizen (Attachment 90)

Richard Martinez, Private Citizen (Attachment 91)

Sara Jahnke, Private Citizen (Attachment 92)

Sheila Sonnenschein, Private Citizen (Attachment 93)

Stephen Linkous, Chief of Staff, Kansas City Kansas Public Schools (Attachment 94)

Susan Harris, Private Citizen (Attachment 95)

Tiffany Seaman, Private Citizen (Attachment 96)

Yvette Nguyen, Private Citizen (Attachment 97)

There being no further conferees, Chairperson Williams closed the hearing on HB 2550.