Gov. Brownback painfully gouges education

Alex Marra, Reporter

It is embarrassing to consider that Kansas’s citizens popularly elected Gov. Sam Brownback into office to represent them.

Simply put, Gov. Brownback and his plan for tax reform have failed miserably, and education is going to pay the price for this unforgivable blunder.

In financial terms, Kansas is faced with a steep hill to climb in the form of a $344 million revenue shortfall that must be filled by June 30.

Gov. Brownback and the Kansas Legislature has drastically cut taxes on both the wealthy and business in Kansas in the hopes that it might encourage businesses to move to Kansas and further stimulate the economy.

Not only has this strategy been a failure in its economic goals, but it has also put immense strain on the state budget.

Instead of reconsidering his rash tax cuts, the Republican is resorting to a spate of other measures: slashing education, raiding the state’s highway fund, diminishing pension contributions, and proposing new sales taxes that could hit low-income families the hardest.

As far as funding goes, the Olathe School District and surrounding districts are faced with a grim reality.

They will now be funded by lump sums of money called block grants.

“While the block grant will ‘freeze’ our funding for the next two years (no new money), all districts in Kansas will lose a little funding before they are frozen,” Dr. Marlin Berry, Olathe district superintendent, said.

Dr. Berry oversees all aspects of the district, and is acutely aware of the struggles that may lie ahead for his schools.

“Because we get a little more ‘state aid’ than Shawnee Mission or Blue Valley, we are maybe losing a little more than they are losing, but both districts are being impacted like us,” Berry said.

“We do have some reserves, but they are pretty thin.  We will do a combination of using reserves along with some selective cuts to make it work for the next two years,” Berry said.

Forcing school districts to make cuts to their programs or personnel is simply not ever a viable option to bolster the state treasury.

Unfortunately for Gov. Brownback, perhaps a better route would be to terminate this Frankenstein of a financial plan that he so highly touted and swallow failure.

On paper, perhaps this looked like a very legitimate plan that could help Kansas.

At this point however, the outcome is now clear. It has been a complete implosion that promises to be difficult to fix in the near future.

As a student, it is immensely frustrating to imagine that the political leader of my state is willing to cut off the flow of money to my school in order to progress his own agenda.

Public schools in Kansas are neither equipped nor willing to foot the bill of these drastic tax cuts, and by putting education in a financial chokehold, Gov. Brownback is rapidly and rightly losing all support from educators.