Baumgardner to run for Kansas Senate, 37th District

March 24, 2014

Governor Brownback formally nominated Senator Pat Apple March 24 for an appointment to the Kansas Corporation Commission. Consequently, I have announced my candidacy to fill this new void in the Kansas Senate’s 37th District.  I’m writing because you will be called upon to select the replacement to represent southern portions of Johnson County (Stilwell, Overland Park, Olathe, Spring Hill, Gardner and Edgerton) and northern portions of Miami County (Louisburg, Paola and Spring Hill).

I want to take this opportunity to explain why I’m interested in serving you in Topeka.  My professional background is in education, healthcare and business.  When you scan the news, online or in our local newspapers, these are hot topics receiving the most attention.   Each weekend that I attend area legislative breakfasts, I find that’s true in our Kansas Senate as well. You deserve a candidate that has a strong working grasp of the current issues and is committed to being a contributor in the legislative process.

With the recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling on education funding, parents, students, and educators need leadership from people that truly understand the education landscape in our state. Specifically, I taught at the K-12 level for seven years and currently am an active member of two USD vocational technology (AV Communications Pathway) advisory boards.  In addition, I’ve served as a faculty member and program coordinator at Johnson County Community College for seven years.

Though I’m not a career politician, I’m certainly not new to Republican efforts in our state and specifically in Miami and Johnson Counties.  For 18 years I served as a countywide elected member of the JCCC Board of Trustees.  In that time, I fought against tax increases and for innovative programming that would lead to solid employment or college transfer.  I have also actively worked on dozens of Republican political campaigns on the local, state and national level.

I feel very connected to the people and issues of this area because I lived in Johnson County for 37 years and have been a resident of Miami County for 10 years.  Regardless of the county line, the voters I talked with weren’t divided about what was important to them:  our schools, our tax burden, our healthcare, and our ability to create new jobs in Kansas.

I certainly look forward to meeting with you in the next weeks to hear your concerns, answer your questions and share more about my background. I hope to earn your support and your vote during the upcoming precinct election. My cell number is 913.709.1069.

Many thanks,
Molly Baumgardner

Molly appointed to freight advisory group

Sen. Molly Baumgardner is a member of the Statewide Freight Advisory Committee, which held a recent meeting in Salina.

U.S. DOT encourages every state to establish a freight advisory group logoadvisory committee composed of a representative cross-section of public- and private-sector freight stakeholders.  The established goals of the committee are to advise KDOT and KTA concerning: 

- freight transportation issues

- priority freight corridors of significance for highway and rail - priorities and funding needs for multimodal/intermodal freight infrastructure improvements

 

 

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"Block Grants"

Continued...

While on the campaign trail this past summer and fall, many school district employees complained that the strict requirements of the different funds often kept money from going directly into the classroom.  The block grant bill will allow school boards to make specific decisions about their spending priorities.  It was stated during the block grant press conference that, “school boards will make the decision as to whether they want to hire a new teacher or purchase a SUV for their district.” 

School funding will increase beginning in the current fiscal year and for the next two fiscal years. The legislation also establishes an “Extraordinary Need Fund” to provide a safety net for school districts in unforeseen circumstances that require additional funding. The fund will be administered by the State Finance Council.        This fund will be used for school districts such as Gardner-Edgerton and Spring Hill, which have experienced triple digit student enrollment increases.

Under the bill, school districts will remain authorized to adopt a local option budget and to levy an amount that does not exceed the LOB of the district for the current fiscal year, unless the district approved a higher amount for the upcoming fiscal year prior to the effective date of the bill.

Presently, Johnson County has 18% of the state’s students, pays 32 % of the taxes and gets 8% in return from the state’s current school funding formula, which is obviously unfair to our county.

“School funding is the most important and largest portion of the state budget, and rightly so.  It is therefore incumbent upon us to ensure that the formula for school spending is effective, efficient and fair for the benefit of all Kansas students and taxpayers,” said State School Board Member Ken Willard, speaking in his personal capacity.

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SB 273 Key points:

  • Allocates the school district’s current funds for FY2014-15
  • Secures growth by appropriating more funds each consecutive school year until another more permanent formula is adopted by the Legislature.
  • The K-12 Block Grant Funding bill will provide flexibility, predictability and stability for Kansas schools and students as we transition into a transparent school finance formula
  • Over the next three years, the K-12 Block Grant Funding bill will add an additional $300 million to Kansas Public schools and fully restore the governor’s allotments made in February 2015.
  • For years, legislators have been told educational funding “silos” have prevented district administrators from making sure money ended up in classrooms. This proposal tears down those barriers, and gives administrators unprecedented control over funding decisions.
  • The current formula has been amended year after year, as automatic cost escalators requiring few or no public votes are added. This is why the argument to “simply fund the formula” is misleading. Funding the current formula amounts to obligating the state to ever increasing funds year after year.  
  • In drafting the bill, appropriating committee members networked with local and state school board members, superintendents, teachers and parents.
  • The current K-12 funding formula is broken and beyond repair. We want to restore flexibility and local control through block grants and empower local districts to put more money into the classroom while a new formula is developed.
  • Every school district will have the flexibility to spend money on what they deem necessary, excluding specific funds such as: bond and interest, special education, and special retirement contributions
  • SB 273 will remove funding restraints, which currently mandate how some funds designated within school budgets must be used.
  • Creating an extraordinary need fund, starting with $4 million for SY2014-15. For SY2015-16 and SY2016-17, 4 percent will be added from the state general fund. This will help school districts with any unforeseen hardships during the use of the block grant. The fund will be overseen by the State Finance Council which is governed by majority and minority leaders from each Chamber and the Governor.

It’s critical for local administrators to have the freedom to decide how the significant amounts of funds being sent to their communities are spent. This bill accomplishes that primary goal, and in the meantime provides legislators with a stable atmosphere to take a long-term look at the formula without the pressures and combativeness that traditionally accompany discussions on the topic.