Our state has the money; let’s fund public education and put KIDS First
Kentucky is enjoying one of the most economically prosperous eras in its history. The state’s reputation for innovation and its business-welcoming environment have attracted countless industries to build and grow here.
Thanks to Kentucky lawmakers for making it easier than ever to do business here and for the progress seen daily as many reap the benefits of a fiscally sound and successful state that even has reserves in the bank.
Recently, the Kentucky General Assembly kicked off the legislative session which will include the 2024-2026 biennial state budget. It is clear legislators intend to address student learning needs, teacher and staff salaries and critical shortages through the budget policy.
The Kentucky Association of School Superintendents (KASS) consistently delivers messages urging the legislature to provide a budget plan that restores an inflationary equivalent to the 2008 buying power through Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) and to fully funding student transportation as prescribed in the statute. This is a realistic goal over the next two biennial budgets and will:
- Ensure Kentucky schools have the resources in our classrooms for supporting student learning;
- Provide funding to improve teacher and school staff salaries to competitive levels so Kentucky can attract and retain high quality professionals to work with and around student and
- Reduce the gap in funding between property-wealthy and property-poor districts.
Besides the strong state revenues and almost $4 billion in reserve, additional funding opportunities to support SEEK, student transportation and other education funding needs, include:
- Last year about $50 million of SEEK excess funds lapsed to the General Fund; this year the SEEK excess is projected to be more than $160 million. KASS is urging the General Assembly to reinvest this $210 million in education to get funding back on track to 2008 buying power.
- Additionally, the General Fund will benefit from the new sports betting revenues earmarked to help with the pension liability. Reports indicate this revenue is on track to generate almost $50 million. While it will help with the pension liability, it will also free up state General Fund dollars that can support the SEEK and student transportation investment.
- The state’s investment portfolio has impressive earnings. The short-term portfolio that includes the budget reserve trust fund has earned more than $177 million, while all investment funds have earned more than $344 million. These additional revenue sources can help with education funding needs.
The “ask” here shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s up to the adults in this state to ensure a brighter future for our children. They deserve highly qualified teachers and school staff, education that’s tailored to their individual needs and much more. With monthly state revenues strong and an improved business climate in Kentucky, now is the time to invest in public education!
Stay in close contact with lawmakers and use the KASS Legislative and Advocacy Priorities with Key Points and the resources at KidsFirstKY.com in conversations and communications with legislators. Your voice matters!
See links for important resources to use during the 2024 Legislative Session:
Dr. Jim Flynn
Kentucky Association for School Superintendents