Education funding and KPERS dominate Intergovernmental Luncheon discussion

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Clancy Holeman, Riley County Counselor, (Right) and Trent Armbrust, representative of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, (Left) discuss areas of the bill HB 2416 and HB 2095 at at the Intergovernmental Luncheon on March 30, 2015 in the Landon room of the Holiday Inn in Manhattan, KS. Attendees of the luncheon were present to discuss state/federal legislative issues for the 2015 year. (Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

The city of Manhattan’s Intergovernmental Luncheon held Monday focused mainly on state government financial allocations.

Leah Fliter, president of the USD 383 school board, opened the meeting by introducing the state’s school finance plan with the budget cuts and new block grants accounted for after Gov. Sam Brownback’s signing.

Robert Shannon, superintendent of Manhattan-Ogden School District 383, explained the loss of government allocations to the school district. He said the district was initially going to lose $320,000 but has now been reallocated for supplemental funding; however, some of the money reallocated will be distributed directly to the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System, or KPERS, a fund that the school board cannot spend or budget.

Shannon said that a new budget plan for school finance was produced by Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Kan. Part of Abrams’ plan includes looking at the success of students post-high school graduation.

“Sen. Abrams has been in both local as well as the state board of education … so we should pay attention to the general ideas the senator has brought forward,” Shannon said.

Following budget talk, conversation veered toward the city of Manhattan, where Assistant City Manager Kiel Mangus spoke about the impact of SB 42, a bill which focuses on public funds for lobbying.

“The city would have to itemize and list every lobbyist they employ,” Mangus said. “Not a big deal. And also every national organization association that has a lobbyist that they employ, (which is) a very big deal.”

Mangus said that every professional organization the city was a part of would be included in the list the city would have to present, including how much each lobbyist was paid.

Bills HB 2416 and HB 2095 were also topics of discussion. HB 2095 deals with an amendment to the $1.5 billion booster allocated to cover part of the KPERS fund. HB 2416 was an amendment that dictates as of January 1, that for anyone employed by the state before 1993, their final salary would not include accrued sickness, vacation or annual leave.

“This greatly affected some of our senior employees at the city to the point where they said, ‘If this gets passed … we might leave before this gets passed,'” Mangus said.

Mangus said that HB 2416 was removed from HB 2095 but he is unsure if it will be reinstated.

Additionally, the Riley County Health Department was recognized as the healthiest county by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Fliter ended the meeting by explaining the state’s provisions to reverse the current formula for distributing financial aid.

“Currently now, it’s about 80 percent of the aid goes to public college students, students at public colleges, and 20 (percent) goes to private, and (the state) would like to flip that,” Fliter said.

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