School officials from across Kansas testified last week in opposition to a bill that would add to the cost of general obligation bonds issued by local districts for capital projects.

HB 2280 would require public school districts that covered less than 200 square miles and with an enrollment of less than 400 students to consult with the Joint Committee on State Building Construction before issuing debt to finance building improvements.

If a district issues bonds without approval from the legislative committee, it would not be eligible for state assistance with debt service.

The measure would also reduce the state subsidy on all school district debt for bonds issued after July 1 to 15% from the current level of 25%.

Beth Reust, superintendent of Rooks County Unified School District 270, said reducing state assistance to school districts would put an even greater burden on local property-taxpayers to make up the difference.

“This action may save the state money, but it certainly does not save Kansas taxpayers,” Reust said during testimony before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Eric Stafford, a lobbyist with Associated General Contractors of Kansas, said construction companies are looking to government projects to carry them through the recession.

“Privately funded construction projects are virtually nonexistent as lenders are unwilling to release funds because of increased regulations from the federal government,” Stafford said.

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