Despite concerns that K-12 funding is taking a larger share of the state budget and squeezing out support for other programs, analysis of state spending shows that school funding's share of the Kansas budget has changed very little since 1994.
According to data from the Kansas Legislative Research Department's Fiscal Facts publication, state aid to school districts in 1994, when the state assumed a much larger role in school funding to reduce property taxes, was 48.2 percent of the state general fund. Under the approved budget for 2019, school district state aid will be 49.7 percent. The average over the past 25 years has been 49.9 percent.
In other words, school district aid from the general fund has increased at almost exactly the same rate as overall state general funding spending, including increased funding as a result of school finance lawsuits.
Note that state aid funding increased from about 40 to 50 percent of the state general fund from 1992 to 1994 when the Legislature raised sales and income taxes to reduce local school property taxes in most districts. The percentage of state aid for K-12 also increased following reductions in the statewide mill levy from 35 to 20 and removing the state school levy from motor vehicle taxes in the late 1990’s, and following the Montoy school finance decision in 2005.
The share of budget going to K-12 had been declining since 2011 until the current year when funding was increased to address the Gannon decision. However, the share of state general funding going to K-12 is expected to decline next year under the two-year budget approved by the 2017 Legislature.
Note: this data includes only appropriations for school district state aid from the state general fund. It does not include capital improvement (bond and interest) aid or the 20-mill statewide levy.