June 7, 2016

Kansas’ most critical infrastructure for children’s programs at risk
Attorney General statement signals securitization, fails to tell whole story

TOPEKA – On Monday, Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced that Kansas has received over $1 billion from the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) since 1999. Unfortunately, more than $200 million of that has been swept from its intended purpose of funding early childhood programs, with more than $60 million having been taken since Gov. Sam Brownback took office.

Decades ago, Kansas lawmakers established the Kansas Endowment for Youth (KEY) Fund and Children’s Initiatives Fund (CIF) with tobacco settlement money as a commitment to the state’s future prosperity. They wisely recognized the return on investment that early education provides Kansas in the form of future cost avoidance. This is why state statute requires all funds from the MSA to go into the KEY Fund and CIF. While 20 percent has been swept, the entire amount would’ve been at risk if not for the critical infrastructure and protections provided by the KEY Fund and CIF.

The latest MSA payment was received in April, yet the Attorney General waited until June to announce the $1 billion “milestone.” His statement comes as revenues repeatedly come in far below expectations and as policymakers search for additional revenue for public schools.

“The legislature resoundingly rejected Gov. Brownback’s efforts to dismantle Kansas’ premier system for early childhood education on three separate occasions during the 2016 session,” said Annie McKay, Kansas Action for Children President and CEO. “The timing of this announcement appears to be another attempt by state leaders to pitch securitization yet again. No matter how much Kansas has received in MSA payments to date, we know that those funds are the most effective and efficient when they are devoted to early childhood programs. We should absolutely not sacrifice our children’s future to continue propping up a budget that has been damaged as a result of failed tax policy. Securitization was a horrible idea during the session and it’s a bad idea now.”

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