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Kansas Panel's Proposals Would Offset Urban-Rural Funds Shift

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A special committee on school finance formed by the Kansas legislature has proposed several measures that would offset expected losses in state aid to some districts as a result of a statewide property-reappraisal program.

The new appraisal rates, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, are expected to show that urban districts possess a disproportionate share of the state's wealth. Under the state's equalization formula, rural districts would then be entitled to a greater share of state aid.

To offset some of these expected4shifts, the committee recommended that district wealth be averaged for a two-year period. It also recommended the adoption of a hold-harmless provision that would guarantee that districts absorb only one-half of the reduction in aid that would otherwise occur during 1989-90.

The panel also recommended that no part of the state's income-tax rebate to districts be counted as part of a district's ability to raise funds. Currently, the state returns 20 percent of the income tax paid by area residents to districts, and counts 85 percent of this money as part of a district's abili8ty to raise local revenue.

Observers believe that this provision will also favor urban districts, which contain a greater percentage of residents who pay income tax.

Committee members, who included members of both the House and Senate and members of the two chambers' education, appropriations, and taxation committees, turned back proposals made this past summer to revamp the education-finance formula. Members will introduce their new recommendations at the start of the legislative session in January.--ef

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