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Kansas Governor Vetoes a Bill To Cap Local Spending Rise

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Gov. John Carlin of Kansas has vetoed the legislature's school-finance bill because it does not allow districts to continue their progress in education or provide for adequate increases in teacher salaries.

According to Charneil Hadl, the Governor's education aide, the bill, approved by lawmakers on March 29, would have set school districts' budget limits at 104 or 108 percent of their current spending levels, depending on per-pupil spending levels. The Governor had requested budget limits of 106 percent for districts spending above the state median or 112 percent for those below the median.

As of last Thursday, the legislature was still considering a separate appropriations bill that would provide an increase of $30 million, or about 7.3 percent, in funding for schools, bringing total general state aid for elementary and secondary education to about $442.06 million. The Governor had requested a $67.1-million increase, or about 14.6 percent.

If the veto is not overridden, budget limits will revert to current law, which sets them at 105 or 115 percent. At these limits, Ms. Hadl predicted, local property taxes could go up next year by as much as $82 million, or 14.4 percent statewide, if districts raise taxes to a level that will enable them to take full advantage of their highest budget limits. She said it is unlikely, however, that districts will be able or willing to do that.

Under both the Governor's and the legislature's plans, property taxes would have increased across the state by about $45 million, or 8 percent.

As part of his education-funding package, Governor Carlin had asked for a 10.5-percent hike in teacher salaries to make teaching more competitive with other professions in the state. Under the legislature's plan, teacher salaries would have gone up 7.5 percent, Ms. Hadl said.

The Governor also wanted a half-cent hike in the state sales tax to fund increased state support for education, but that proposal was never formally introduced, according to Ms. Hadl.

According to Don E. Crumbaker, chairman of the House Education Committee, the legislature has decided "it would be futile" to attempt an override of the Governor's veto. He said there may be an attempt later to reconsider the budget limits, but for now lawmakers will allow the 5- and 15-percent limits to go into effect. Governor Carlin has not indicated whether he will also veto the appropriations bill.

The lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn April 28.--pw

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