Kansas siphoning funds to religious schools when public schools don’t have the funding to stay open all year.

Kansas siphoning funds to religious schools when public schools don’t have the funding to stay open all year. August 10, 2015

Kansas is largely populated with citizens so politically unaware that Lucifer could be the Republican candidate and probably still win the election.  I say this because in the last election cycle the Republican candidate for governor was incumbent Sam Brownback, the man who bankrupted the state and whose economic policies were such a horrific failure that many Republican lawmakers came out in favor of the Democrat candidate.

Brownback still won, because what self-respecting fundamentalist Christian would vote for the Democrat over the guy who tanked the state?  Because isn’t opposing same-sex marriage more important than your own well-being?

Well, the good book says ask and ye shall receive and Kansas is sure getting what they asked for.  Bear with me for a bit because this one requires some setup.  First, as of this year businesses can get tax credit for donating to non-profits:

…in the spring of 2014, the Legislature created a tax credit for corporations, which took effect this year. The program allows some categories of businesses to donate money for disadvantaged children to attend private schools.

The donations must go to approved nonprofit organizations, which put it toward scholarships. By state law, the donors can’t designate which children should receive the awards.

Later, the state gives the donors tax credits worth 70 percent of their gifts, with a statewide annual cap of $10 million in tax credits.

Ok, so businesses can get tax credit for donating to charitable causes.  Awesome.  No problems there usually.  However, a religious group has found a way to create a problem.

In just a few months, a Catholic foundation has raised more than half a million dollars under a controversial new program to fund private school education for scores of low-income children in northeast Kansas, including Topeka and the Kansas City area.

The Catholic Education Foundation is the largest of five organizations that have stepped forward to join Kansas’ first foray into a national movement championed by some and scorned by others, the goal of which is to increase access to private schools.

“We’re excited to make this a reality for the families,” said Adrienne Runnebaum, of the Kansas City, Kan.-based foundation, which since 1997 has raised money to provide families with needs-based scholarships for their children to attend schools in the Archdiocese of Kansas City.

Ok, private groups raising money to give kids scholarships to private religious schools.  I’m not a fan of sending kids somewhere that’s going to indoctrinate them, but it’s a private group’s right to raise private funds toward that goal.  Note the emphasis on “private funds.”

The problem is that the state of Kansas is giving tax credits to businesses that contribute to the scholarship fund to send kids to religious schools:

Collectively, the three donors who contributed $521,000 to the Catholic Education Foundation for scholarships — two C-corporations and one bank, which so far have requested the foundation keep them anonymous — will be able to subtract $364,700 from their corporate income tax, privilege tax or premium tax bills. If the credit exceeds their liability, the balance carries over for future years.

“That’s spending, right there,” said Patrick Woods, president of the Topeka Board of Education. “They’re giving public dollars to private providers.”

Effectively, he says, Kansas is subsidizing private schools, and exacerbating the state revenue tailspin that prompted lawmakers to slash public school funding this spring.

Bear in mind, Kansas is a state where finances are so bad and where cuts to education have been so harsh that multiple school districts had to close early this past year.  Even if giving tax credits to businesses giving money to religious institutions weren’t a flagrant violation of the separation of church and state, the last thing Kansas needs to be doing is giving money to private schools when its own public school system is in such dire straights.  I imagine some of those districts could do quite a bit with $364,700 (and what will eventually turn out to be a lot more).

Not only is this illegal, it sends a message: the state values indoctrinating children more than educating them.  To any fair, caring, and sensible person this is an outrage.  Unsurpringly, the only people who will support it will be Christians citing Christian values and love of children (although not the ones left to shitty public schools, which is almost all of them).  But hey, they’ll get to indoctrinate some kids.  Sure it will come at the expense of every kid attending public schools in Kansas, but wasn’t Jesus always talking about winning at everybody else’s expense, especially the poor?

The state will respond that it’s just trying to fix education.  If they really gave a shit about education they wouldn’t be sending money to private schools leaving almost all the state’s children to rot in underfunded public schools…for as long as those schools can stay open without funding.

There’s religion: making the world a better place again.

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