TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly weighed in on the latest school choice debate at the statehouse on Friday.
This year, Republicans are considering a bill that would expand eligibility for a tax credit scholarship program to attend private schools. Kelly said she has not yet seen the legislation, but the decision would most likely come down to “fiscal considerations.”
“I know we have something like that right now, so it’s not like we’d be inventing a wheel,” Kelly told reporters on Friday. “This, probably is going to be based more on fiscal considerations…and if there’s any twist to it that wasn’t in the original one.”
Supporters of the proposal believe it would bridge the achievement gap between low-income and high-income students. However, public school advocates have testified against the bill, arguing that it would take money used for public school students with the “greatest needs.”
Kelly has signed off on school choice legislation in the past.
Last year, the governor signed a bill fully funding education. The bill included an open enrollment policy, which allows students to go to any public school district in the state starting in the 2024-2025 school year. It also requires schools to outline how many non-district students they can accept. The policy received pushback from democrats and public school advocates.
This year’s push for a tax credit expansion comes as the Governor has outlined her own education agenda for the legislative session.
Kelly received the Governor’s Council on Education’s annual report on Friday, which includes a set of recommendations aimed at improving educational outcomes and increasing collaboration between the business and education sectors.
The Council’s recommended improvements are aimed at advancing early childhood education, increasing opportunities for workforce-bound high schoolers, improving post-secondary transitions for our students, and increasing coordination for technical education.
“I established the Council on Education not only because I believe that educating our children is one of the most important obligations of our elected leaders, but also because it’s one of the best economic investments we can make as a state,” Kelly said. “I’m proud of the work the Council has done these last four years searching for innovative ways to provide for our students, and I look forward to addressing their recommendations to ensure Kansas students have access to the best education in the country.”