WICHITA, Kansas — Outside Carnegie Library in downtown Wichita, as many as 150 protesters from various groups, including United Teachers of Wichita, Women For Kansas, and KNEA-Retired, gathered in protest Wednesday against Governor Sam Brownback.
Protesters showed their support for Gov. Brownback’s Democratic challenger, Paul Davis.
“We know that there is another voice out there that says that funding has not been cut to education. The reality is, it has,” said Deena Burnett, a representative for United Teachers of Wichita.
After the brief press conference Wednesday, KSN asked Gov. Brownback specifically about education and the debate concerning funding ruled “unconstitutional.”
Gov. Brownback said, “Well, that was the prior governor that had the lawsuit on the equalization that I fixed and the legislature fixed, and the court held as being an equalized formula. So, yeah, it was unconstitutional under the prior governor and we fixed it.”
KSN did some checking on the issue of school funding, as Brownback addressed it.
The most recent lawsuit filed against the state of Kansas points to cuts made by the state over four consecutive years — 2009 through 2012 — both before and during Brownback’s term as governor.
The funding plan approved by the legislature this past session was declared to be constitutional by a three-judge panel this summer, 2014.
Click here to view all of the reductions in “base state aid” to Kansas schools in recent years (page 21) as listed on the lawsuit Gannon vs Kansas.
Texas Governor Rick Perry joined Brownback in his re-election campaign. Their message focused on the economy, and specifically state tax cuts.
Gov. Brownback says Texas is the perfect model for growth and development.
“We are after growth. We want to grow. That’s what we’re about. That’s what we did our tax cuts about, is to grow, to grow the state of Kansas. I was tired of losing our kids and grandkids to the state of Texas,” said Gov. Brownback.
“He [Sam Brownback] understood that you cannot tax and spend yourself to prosperity,” said Gov. Perry.
Gov. Brownback is locked in a close race with Paul Davis amid a backlash from voters concerned about cuts to classroom spending and those massive tax cuts which have reportedly created revenue shortfalls.
While Gov. Brownback focused on growing the economy in his time at the podium during Wednesday’s press conference, Gov. Perry addressed education.
“Making sure that we have a good education system in place, so accountable public schools, so that those businesses looking for the skilled workforce will know that they’re going to be right here in Wichita,” said Perry.
The two Republican governors have had a close relationship for years.
Both men are former state agriculture secretaries. Brownback also endorsed Perry’s 2012 campaign for the GOP nomination for president.