Kansas governor Sam Brownback (R), the moron who made steep tax cuts and sent Kansas’ budget and economy into a tailspin, says that the state’s objective to address budget shortfalls is to increase revenue. That sounds like Brownback is giving in and hiking taxes somewhere, perhaps on the wealthy. But alas, he’s not. Talking Points Memo reports that he’s looking to cut the budget some more, particularly the education budget.
Why is it that whenever there’s a budget crisis, the first thing to go is education? We already have problems with the failed-beyond-all-doubt model of No Child Left Behind, and Common Core, on which the jury is still out. Both of these were supposed to raise the level of education our children receive so that they’re better equipped to compete with the rest of the world. NCLB didn’t. Common Core remains in question.
Neither of those models will work at all without money, though. Kansas’ education budget makes up more than half of the state budget at present, according to the Wichita Eagle. Of the state’s budget overall, Brownback’s chief of staff, Jon Hummel, said:
“The governor has had a very consistent policy of wanting to limit growth in spending. He wants to keep income taxes low. And you know, circumstances have changed. Revenue didn’t come in quite as was projected. … If we can do some things on the tax side and do some things on the budget side and still maintain that overall philosophy, then he’s always been open to that.”
The Eagle reports that Brownback’s budget proposal would be “revenue positive,” which means it would leave the state with a surplus. Hummel said that while there would be some “revenue enhancements”—which in GOP-speak often means raising taxes on those who can least afford it—Brownback is definitely focusing far more on curbing spending.
That means cutting the education budget. Brownback apparently feels that school financing is out of control in his state. One would think that Kansas teachers would be extremely well paid, that students would all have state-of-the-art equipment and textbooks, that they would offer every extra-curricular activity imaginable, and that the average class size would be among the lowest in the country, if the education budget was truly out of control.
Or administrators would pay themselves far more lavishly than they already do. Something like either of these would be happening.
Instead, class sizes have grown, staff has been let go, after school programs got cut, and fees for parents went up, according to CBS News. Some groups sued the state, saying that the funding levels the state currently has violates the state’s constitution. The Kansas Supreme Court agreed, and sent the case back to a lower court to determine what the appropriate level of funding should be.
In short, it may not be constitutional for Brownback to address spending by cutting the education budget, but clearly that’s where one of his biggest targets is. It’s no secret that states that spend more on education tend to have stronger school systems. So even if he’s not sued, or found in violation of a court order on education funding, he’ll preside over Kansas’ fall from near the top of school system rankings.
Featured image by jarmoluk. Licensed under Public Domain via Pixabay. Text added by Rika Christensen.