Jim Genandt, president of Manhattan Technical College, testified in support of a new tax credit at the Kansas State House on Feb. 23, 2021.

Kansas technical colleges have pushed a new bill into the legislature that would allow up to a 100% tax credit for cash donations made to trade schools at up to $500,000 per school.

The bill, HB 2315, passed 119-4 on March 4 and was moved to the Senate for consideration. 

James Genandt, president and chief executive officer of Manhattan Area Technical College, spoke in support of the bill. Genandt said technical colleges in Kansas have a high return on investment according to a Georgetown University study that compared college investment to lifetime earnings. 

“Three of the top five are technical colleges and the difference between Manhattan Tech and K-State over 40 years was four thousand dollars,” Genandt said. “Sixty percent of my graduates stay in Riley, Geary, and Pottawatomie counties as employees, as taxpayers and as consumers.”

Kansas has seven technical schools that would be eligible under the new tax credit, House Bill 2315, totaling $3.5 million in available credits. The bill revives a statute that expired in 2012 that provided tax credits to donors equaling 60% credit of donations for technical colleges and 50% for community colleges Kathleen Smith said, director of research and analysis at the Kansas Department of Revenue.

Kansas’ technical college’s tuition costs range from $117 per credit hour up to $205 for online courses, including fees. The schools include Flint Hills Technical College, Manhattan Area Technical College, North Central Kansas Technical College, Northwest Kansas Technical College, Salina Area Technical College, Washburn Institute Of Technology and Wichita Area Technical College.

Genandt said the investment in technical colleges is a long-term local investment in Kansas and technical colleges are at a financial disadvantage compared to community colleges and state universities because they have no taxing authority. This bill would go far to help struggling schools build relationships with donors, he said.

Rep. Jim Kelly, R-Independence, asked repeatedly during the hearing why the new credit should be a full 100% of donations compared to the 60% credit afforded in the past. Genandt said the maximum amount would lure new donors to the colleges.

Heather Morgan, executive director with the Kansas Association of Community Colleges supported the bill but said she would like an amendment that included Kansas’ 19 community colleges in the bill.

“Kansas community colleges provide 70% of the technical education in Kansas, and while we have local taxing authority, our local boards of trustees work very hard to keep the local mill levy as low as possible,” Morgan said.

Community colleges receive 37% of their funding from local mill levies, but students come from all over the state to take advantage of their technical training, Morgan said. Expanding the tax credit to include Kansas’ 19 community colleges, if used, would add an additional $9.5 million to the available credits.

Genandt said he is not opposed to additional credits for community colleges, but that it was imperative not to dilute the need that technical colleges have for support.

“We don't need fancy facilities. We need Butler buildings. We need the ability to have a facility that will hold up as we teach people how to use a saw, how to change oil, how we do health care,” Genandt said.

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