TOPEKA (KSNT) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly spoke on Friday about the latest “school choice” debate at the Statehouse.
This year, Republicans are considering a bill that would expand eligibility for a tax-credit scholarship program to attend private schools. Kelly said he hasn’t seen the legislation yet, but the decision will most likely boil down to “tax considerations.”
“I know we have something like this right now, so it’s not like we’re inventing a wheel,” Kelly told reporters on Friday. “This will probably be based more on tax considerations…and if there is any twist that wasn’t there in the original one.”
Proponents of the proposal believe it would close the achievement gap between low-income and high-income students. However, public school advocates testified against the bill, arguing that it would take money used for public school students with the “greatest needs.”
Kelly has signed into school choice legislation in the past.
Last year, the governor signed a bill that fully funds education. The bill included an open enrollment policy, allowing students to attend any public school district in the state beginning in the 2024-2025 school year. It also requires schools to outline how many non-district students they can accept. The policy has received pushback from Democrats and public school advocates.
This year’s push for a tax credit expansion comes as the Governor outlined his education agenda for the legislative session.
Kelly received the Governor’s Council on Education’s annual report on Friday, which includes a series of recommendations aimed at improving educational outcomes and increasing collaboration between the business and education sectors.
The improvements recommended by the Council aim to advance early childhood education, increase workforce-related opportunities for high school students, improve post-secondary transitions for our students, and increase coordination for technical education.
“I established the Council on Education not only because I believe educating our children is one of the most important obligations of our elected leaders, but also because it is one of the best economic investments we can make as a state,” Kelly said. “I am proud of the work the Board has done over the past four years in finding innovative ways to provide for our students and look forward to responding to their recommendations to ensure Kansas students have access to the best education in the country.” .