Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Governor calls tenure a success, announces push for all-day kindergarten

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 1/17/2014

TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback used his State of the State address this week to signal support   for all-day kindergarten, discuss his proposed budget and claim success for his tenure so far.

Following Brownback’s address, Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, the House minority leader and Brownback’s opposition in the November gubernatorial election, delivered a response to the governor’s claims of success, criticizing the state’s economic development and current status of education funding.

TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback used his State of the State address this week to signal support   for all-day kindergarten, discuss his proposed budget and claim success for his tenure so far.

Following Brownback’s address, Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, the House minority leader and Brownback’s opposition in the November gubernatorial election, delivered a response to the governor’s claims of success, criticizing the state’s economic development and current status of education funding.

In his speech to the Legislature at the Capitol, Brownback said the state Board of Education recently proposed an increase in funding of all-day kindergarten every year for the next five years. He said some schools around the state already have begun all-day kindergarten with only funding for half-day classes. With a growing economy, however, the state will be able to afford to fund the program, he added.

“It seems strange to me that the state counts all of the 12 and only half of the K,” Brownback said. “For the first time, we can ensure that every Kansas child has access to all-day kindergarten and we should do it now.”

Other proposed funding projects Brownback mentioned included a $2-million increase to the Our Rural Community Zones program that addresses a shortage of housing in rural areas, as well as funding Rural Bridging Program to help bring doctors to rural areas.

Brownback also stressed the importance of water for the state’s future, and said people throughout the state will be developing strategies to help preserve water for the next 50 years. He then asked the Legislation and the general public to get involved with the process.

“Without water there is no future,” Brownback said.

Brownback began his address by mentioning the actions the state has taken to improve the economy and said the unemployment rate has dropped from 6.9 percent to 5.1 percent since 2010, tied for the 10th lowest in the United States. He also said the state is among the top 10 in the U.S. for lowest cost of living and best places to make a living, as well as top 10 for fourth-grade reading proficiency.

“In the past two years, we have implemented programs to increase the reading abilities of our children, a vital skill for success in school and in life,” Brownback said.

But in his response, Davis said Brownback was leading Kansas in the wrong direction. Davis said there are 16,000 fewer Kansans working than when Brownback took office, classroom sizes are growing as thousands of teachers have been laid off, and the college tuition rates in Kansas are the highest they’ve ever been.

“We need to go in a different direction,” Davis said.

Davis also criticized Brownback’s tax plan, which he said has crippled the state. Davis said economists have called Brownback’s tax plan the worst in the country.

“Now, the governor says it will take years for Kansans to see any significant job growth,” Davis said. “The Brownback experiment has failed.”

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