Friday, November 28, 2014

Smoke and mirrors

4/2/2014

Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Commerce Secretary Pat George “set the record straight” on Kansas’ economic growth in rebuttal to a commentary critical of Gov. Sam Brownback’s economic policies, which was published in the March 29-30 Herald Weekender. The response was an effective presentation of the governor’s agenda.

Perhaps we have seen 20,500 jobs created in the past year and a projected $500 million deficit turned into a $700 million surplus. But at what cost? The writers claim funding for education has increased every year Brownback has been in office. This sounds like the smoke and mirrors we usually get from Washington. Education funding has increased only because KPERS (pension plan) contributions are now considered as education funding by the governor for the first time in the history of Kansas school finance. According to Dr. Jeanne Stroh, Ottawa schools superintendent, “Our district has been shorted $226,000 in capital outlay equalization and $605,000 in LOB (local option budget) equalization each year since 2009.” And now, folks, where is that increased educational funding going?

Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Commerce Secretary Pat George “set the record straight” on Kansas’ economic growth in rebuttal to a commentary critical of Gov. Sam Brownback’s economic policies, which was published in the March 29-30 Herald Weekender. The response was an effective presentation of the governor’s agenda.

Perhaps we have seen 20,500 jobs created in the past year and a projected $500 million deficit turned into a $700 million surplus. But at what cost? The writers claim funding for education has increased every year Brownback has been in office. This sounds like the smoke and mirrors we usually get from Washington. Education funding has increased only because KPERS (pension plan) contributions are now considered as education funding by the governor for the first time in the history of Kansas school finance. According to Dr. Jeanne Stroh, Ottawa schools superintendent, “Our district has been shorted $226,000 in capital outlay equalization and $605,000 in LOB (local option budget) equalization each year since 2009.” And now, folks, where is that increased educational funding going?

We now have our Legislature looking at a court-ordered repair of school finance, and if it doesn’t pass muster, it goes back to the court. The current administration might be able to rationalize the benefits of their low income tax strategy, but Kansas has a balanced budget requirement and after raiding the various funds the final leg in the Kansas revenue stream is property tax. Low income tax is a reasonable growth strategy at the national level where there is no balanced budget requirement but the cost of cutting essential services to balance a state budget has a critical effect on life style and impacts our schools and other public services.

Beware increased property taxes.

— Dr. Bud Gollier, Ottawa

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