A Weekly Rundown of Important Activity in Topeka, from a Principled Perspective
WEEK 11 - MARCH 25, 2018
“The goal for reformers today should be to build on what’s been working, work on fixing what hasn’t, and replace bureaucratic excess with a spirit of decentralized problem-solving. The Left, with its taste for federal control and grand policy solutions, is ill positioned to do that. Conservative reformers therefore have an enormous opportunity.”
- Frederick Hess of National Review on Education Reform

The Facts of the Matter is a feature in The Truth Report each week, highlighting important information, some of which is not always reported or emphasized in the mainstream press:
  • School District Size Varies Widely in Kansas. One of the more notable challenges facing legislators in developing school finance reform lies in the fact there is such a disparity in school districts size. Among the 286 school districts in Kansas, on the high end is the Wichita School District, with over 50,000 students. On the low end? Several districts with less than 100 students. (Source: Kansas Department of Education.)

  • No State in America has a 95% Graduation Rate. A focus in the recent school finance study was the aspiration to achieve a 95% high school graduation rate in Kansas, and the level of funding that would require. The fact is that no state in America is at 95% - most are in the 70’s and 80’s. The highest, according to, is Iowa at 90%. Kansas is currently at a relatively high 86%.   (Source)

  • Thousands of Children Languish in Foster Care. Of the roughly 400,000 children in the foster care system today, 18 percent have been in foster care for more than three years, and 9 percent have been in the system for more than five years. (Source)
Have you heard our Kansas Truth Minute spots yet on airing on more than 30 radio stations across Kansas? We have six playing right now with more in the works. These are one-minute spots highlighting unique facts about our state – as well as facts about what’s happening in state government.

You can listen to the three playing now on our website:
News & Views is a weekly collection of relevant news items and editorials regarding what's going on in Topeka and around the State of Kansas.
ACLU's bigoted purge of faith-based adoption agencies

The Kansas Truth Caucus has taken a strong stance in favor of the Adoption Protection Act, as you will see later in the testimony Sen. Masterson presented on Tuesday to the Federal & State Affairs Committees in both chambers. The legislation is a common-sense, reasonable approach to protect faith-based adoption providers, ensuring they can remain in service without compromising their faith.

On the other side of that debate, both here in Kansas and elsewhere, has been the ACLU. As this article (which discusses the Kansas legislation at length) demonstrates, the real discrimination is from their efforts to purge faith-based adoption agencies.

Key Excerpt:

 Ironically, their offensive rhetoric demonstrates the pressing need for even more states to pass these measures to protect their faith-based social service organizations. "If the ACLU gets their way," warned Eric Teetsel, President of the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, "any agency that declines to embrace their sexual politics would be prohibited from partnering with the government to provide social services to those in need, like caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, counseling prisoners, and finding homes for kids in need. To see such disdain for the viewpoints of others is disappointing; that it results in fewer services for those in need is unacceptable.”
Transparency Center: Follow the Kansas Legislature
Both the House and Senate have taken historic steps towards the promotion of open government. For the first time, you can view video streaming of both chambers via the Kansas Legislature YouTube page. In addition, many committees are now audio streamed. Finally, the Kansas Legislature website remains a great resource. Here are the relevant links:

YouTube Streaming:

Corrected School Finance Study Released;
Media Drumbeat Focuses on Dollars Only
Last Friday afternoon, WestEd, through Dr. Lori Taylor and others, released its long-anticipated study entitled, “Estimating the Costs Associated with Reaching Student Achievement Expectations for Kansas Public Education Students.” 

It was immediately discovered there were significant errors in the study. As a result, the report had to be corrected. The corrected report can be viewed by clicking here. Consultants Dr. Lori Taylor and Jason Willis were present in Topeka earlier this week to answer questions.
The report’s outrageous price tags have led to a mainstream media drumbeat that legislators will have to respond with massive new spending on education, potentially requiring another massive new tax increase to pay for it. In most of these stories, the focus is almost exclusively on dollars – perpetuating the argument that by simply throwing billions more at schools, we’ll achieve results like a 95% graduation rate. 

Setting aside the fact Kansans could not afford the astronomic taxes the “scenarios” in the study would seem to require, there was no attempt to focus on truly innovative ideas such as building-based budgeting, school choice, real accountability measures, or even the basic fact that there are 286 school districts in Kansas, and that the size disparity between 65 on the low end (Triplains) to over 50,000 on the high end (Wichita) might be something worth reforming. Unfortunately, these real reforms are essentially impossible due to the entrenched interests resisting them – including teachers’ unions, the Kansas Association of School Boards, and of course, our very own Kansas Supreme Court.

As members of the Truth Caucus continue to review proposals and explore ideas, our focus will be different. Our ideas will centered around real solutions, such as the ideas laid out in this 2016 school-reform article in the National Review by Frederick Hess.

School choice. Dollars following students. Real accountability measures. Etc. It all must be part of the school reform and school finance discussion. You can’t talk about money without talking about results and what’s really best for Kansas kids.
Liberal Legislation Watch: Democrats Try Medicaid Expansion Again
From time to time, the Truth Report contains a "Liberal Legislation Watch," where we will highlight legislation that would undermine conservative principles by implementing liberal policies.
Democrats sure love ObamaCare!

Another week, and another attempt by Democrats to amend more ObamaCare onto a piece of legislation.

Last week, Minority Leader Jim Ward attempted three times to amend a banking bill with Medicaid Expansion. He failed each time.

This week, Rep. Brandon Whipple attempted to amend ObamaCare expansion onto a bill dealing with “pharmacy patients fair practices,” and not surprisingly, it was ruled not germane.

Look for another attempt next week. Remember, expanding Medicaid is still a bad idea, as demonstrated in this editorial by Jeff Glendening .
Truth Caucus Makes Stand for Adoption, Testifies Before Federal & State Affairs Committees in Support of the Adoption Protection Act
The Adoption Protection Act is a critical step towards ensuring that a full 1/3 of Kansas adoption agencies can continue operating and placing children, while still holding true to their sincerely-held religious beliefs.

In addition to the Kansas Truth Caucus, twenty organizations and individuals provided compelling proponent testimony on Tuesday. To help explain the importance of this legislation, we have established an Adoption Protection Act Resource Center on the Kansas Truth Caucus website. Here you can find:

  • Proponent testimony from 21 individuals and organizations.
  • Helpful editorials about the Adoption Protection Act – not just in Kansas but in other states, as well.
  • Links to the legislation’s pages on, which includes the actual bills and Supplemental Notes.
  • Links to organizations supportive of the Adoption Protection Act.
  • A “Status Tracker,” which will be updated to reflect where both bills stand in the legislative process.

For a full description of what’s at stake, including significant coverage about the Kansas legislation, the Washington Examiner published a fantastic editorial (also featured in the News & Views section above) describing the reason for the Adoption Protection Act, entitled “ ACLU's Bigoted Purge of Faith-based Adoption Agencies .” 

Note: We will be updating the Adoption Protection Act Resource Center with additional links and editorials over the next few days.  
Accountability Takes a Back Seat: Six Senators on Senate Education Committee Kill Education Inspector General Bill
The Senate Education Committee, on a 6-5 vote, narrowly defeated advancing the Education Inspector General bill, authored by Senators Ty Masterson and Mary Pilcher Cook.

A thank you to Senators Baumgardner, Alley, Estes, Fitzgerald and Pyle for voting to advance the bill.  Unfortunately, Senators Bollier, Givens, Hensley, Sykes, Pettey, and Taylor voted to kill the bill.

Reacting to the decision of the six Senators, Sen. Pilcher Cook released the following statement:

“Over half the state budget goes to K-12 education. Taxpayers have a right to expect those funds are being allocated according to law. We learned earlier this year they were being allocated in a manner inconsistent with that law, and this measure would ensure they are allocated properly in the future. The Legislature has already proven to be careless with the citizens’ tax dollars. Now, by voting against the measure, six senators have expressed willful disregard about their constitutional duty to Kansas citizens.”

 Both Sen. Ty Masterson and Sen. Pilcher Cook provided testimony in favor of the legislation, which you can read in last week’s Truth Report by clicking here .
Politics Over People: Ward Maneuver Stops House Attempt to Lower Sales Tax on Food
The food sales tax in Kansas is one of the highest in the country. In fact, Kansas is one of only a handful of states that even charges a sales tax on food, particularly at an amount equal to its general sales tax on other products. This type of tax is particularly regressive, hurting low-income families the most. 

Meanwhile, many organizations and products receive a sales tax exemption. Earlier this year, the Wichita Eagle discussed this issue.

This week, a bill came before the Kansas House which would have created yet another exemption – this time for gold coins. Rep. John Whitmer attempted to amend the bill with a 1.1% reduction in the food sales tax, paid for by repealing a list of the more ridiculous sales tax exemptions.

Even though the bill had support from Democrats, Minority Leader Jim Ward used a parliamentary maneuver – dividing the bill into six parts – in order to make the political argument that Republicans voting for the amendments were raising taxes six times.

Not willing to play the political game, Whitmer withdrew his amendment. You can read the full account in this article
Maximizing Impact of Federal Tax Cuts
As a result of the federal “Trump tax cuts” passed late last year, the State of Kansas is expected to receive a significant windfall of funds. While some would like to spend that money on programs, it is most appropriate to return it where it was intended – the taxpayers.

To that end, conservative legislators are working hard on different ideas to do so, from raising the standard deduction in Kansas to match the federal deduction, or to allow an individual to itemize deductions in Kansas despite not itemizing on their federal return. Other ideas include ensuring utility companies use their tax savings and pass it directly on to customers in the form of rate reductions. These ideas deserve a discussion and consideration.
Every week, the Truth Report contains a “Wallet Watch," where we examine efforts to remove money from the wallets of hard-working Kansans.  
On Friday, legislation creating an internet sales tax on out-of-state businesses was on the House floor. The bill, HB 2756, would require out-of-state businesses without a presence in Kansas to charge sales tax based on the rates where the customer resided. This bill would increase taxes on Kansas citizens by an estimated $93 million in 2019, absent an amendment that would enact a corresponding tax decrease.

Shortly before the debate, the bill was pulled from General Orders. The Kansas Truth Caucus will be watching this legislation.