Home » Relief bill for ailing school districts clears House panel

Relief bill for ailing school districts clears House panel

Rep. John Carney, R-Campbellsville, sponsor of HB 141.
Rep. John Carney, R-Campbellsville, sponsor of HB 141.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 6, 2018) — A total of $7 million in surplus SEEK funds would go to 12 financially-strapped public school districts to help them make payroll this year under a House proposal.

The $7 million in fiscal year 2017-2018 SEEK (Support Education Excellence in Kentucky) – the main source of K-12 public education funding in Kentucky—would be loaned to the districts out of an existing but never-before-used state emergency revolving school loan fund account under House Bill 141, sponsored by Rep. John Carney, R-Campbellsville.

“HB 141 will, I think, be one of the most significant things we do this session,” he told the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee before it voted to approve the bill.

The loans would be limited to $500,000, and would have to be repaid within five years at zero interest, said Carney.

Carney called HB 141 a “short term” solution to the financial issues of the 12 districts, located mostly in Eastern Kentucky. Carney said the districts are “legitimately in a difficult financial situation due to circumstances really outside of their control.”

Rep. Tim Couch, R-Hyden, said his home county of Leslie is losing population along with revenues from unmined minerals due to lower assessments.

“So we appreciate it,” he said of HB 141. “Our future is our kids. We cannot say that enough.”

Rep. Jim Wayne, voted for the bill, saying the state needs more revenue to ensure education needs are met.

“This state is in a major, major crisis situation,” said Wayne, D-Louisville. “It’s important that we not pass a budget unless we have new revenue to address situations like you’re presenting today.”

Any funds not used would go to the state’s permanent pension fund under current law, added House Appropriations and Revenue Chair Steven Rudy, R-Paducah.

HB 141 now goes to the full House for its consideration.