Brownback Sets Sights On Income Tax, School Funding

By: Jeff Herndon Email
By: Jeff Herndon Email

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Taxes, budgets, the courts and school funding – Governor Sam Brownback addressed all of these issues in Tuesday night’s State of the State.

He spoke on several issues, but those don’t seem to be the headliners. In the first moments of his 30-minute address, the governor reiterated his desire to eliminate the state income tax.

"When I started as Governor,” he said, “we had the highest state income tax to the region. Now we have the second lowest, and I want to take it to zero."

But Brownback says to reach zero, the current state sales tax increase, which was set to expire this summer, must remain.

"We can keep the sales tax flat at the current level, and cut income taxes on our lower working income families," Brownback said.

As for the budget, Brownback set his sights on school funding.

Responding to last week’s court ruling that declared the state’s school finance formula unconstitutional, he says he’s more focused on how the funding is used rather than the amount of funding received.

"We seem to focus on how much money is appropriated, not on whether er it is effectively spent,” he said. “This must change and will change during this administration."

And for that to happen, the governor is proposing changes to the state constitution, not only to change how the state selects it’s top judges, but also giving the legislature sole power to determine how much state funding schools receive.

"So I ask you, to make it clear in law, that defining what is a suitable provision for public funding of education is a job for the peoples elected representatives and no one else,” the governor said.

Senate democratic leader Anthony Hensley issued the democratic response to Brownback’s address.

He said, “Governor Brownback has brought Washington DC politics to Kansas, and, tonight, I say Washington DC politics do not belong in Kansas.”

“In just three school years,” Hensley added, “statewide funding for K through 12 education was cut nearly $442 million. These cuts are forcing schools to lay off teachers, increase class sizes and eliminate support services. I would hardly call that a road map to success.”

Brownback’s speech and the democratic response are attached.

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