Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Bill Seeks Option for Taxpayer Chip-In ; Income Tax Return Donation Line Not a School Finance Fix, Officials Say

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Bill Seeks Option for Taxpayer Chip-In ; Income Tax Return Donation Line Not a School Finance Fix, Officials Say

Article excerpt

The shadow of a looming school finance case hung over a Kansas House committee hearing Wednesday on legislation allowing taxpayers to more easily donate money to local schools.

House Bill 2590 would place an option for donation on state individual income tax returns.

"Check if you wish to donate, in addition to your tax liability, or designate from your refund," the new provision would say.

It would provide options for $1, $5, $10 and empty spaces for taxpayers to write in their donation of choice and unified school district of choice. The change would take effect beginning in 2017.

The bill is a creation of Rep. Joe Seiwert, R-Pretty Prairie, who said his constituents often ask how they can make small donations to their school district.

"Many people are willing to help and want to help, but they are never quite sure how to go about it," he told the House Taxation Committee.

HB 2590, which passed the House as an amendment several years ago but was removed by the Senate, would provide a simple and voluntary way for Kansans to do so, he said.

"It requires nothing other than filling in the blanks. There are no hidden fees, no complicated paperwork," Seiwert testified.

Two school superintendents testifying Wednesday were cautiously supportive of the legislation but warned it shouldn't be considered a panacea to the state's school finance woes.

"This bill does not resolve the concerns that I have with the overall issues of school funding," said Renwick USD 267 superintendent Tracy Bourne. "However, it does provide some potential new revenue sources in a time when schools are struggling."

Nathan Reed, superintendent of USD 310 in Fairfield, said it would be "very beneficial" to grant citizens an opportunity to donate to schools.

"I support anything that offers flexibility and individual decision-making options that support students in Kansas schools," he said in written testimony. …

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