- J.D. from Washburn University School of Law
- B.S. from Kansas State University
- Graduated from Northeast Magnet
- Elementary and Middle School at St. Elizabeth
- First time running for office
Wife, Rebecca, married for 17 years. Son, James, attends Maize South Middle School and daughter, Kara, attends Pray Woodman Elementary.
What is your plan to deal with the Kansas Budget?
First, we end the 2012 tax holiday given to a select few Kansas citizens. I say “few,” but losing those 300,000 taxpayers turned out not to be a “shot of adrenaline” like Gov. Brownback said, but more like a needle sucking out our lifeblood. Then, we roll back the other concessions and giveaways that were added into that legislation to get it passed. Then, we undo the patches passed in 2015 (like the confiscatory sales tax) that unsuccessfully tried to fill in the hole – but only dug us deeper. Then, we finally admit the Brownback Experiment failed – just like it did in Louisiana – and look for a better model. Like Minnesota, which added additional marginal tax rate tiers and had a record number of millionaires file returns and had a $1 billion surplus.
What kind of changes do you support in rewriting the school funding formula? Do you support additional funding for Kansas schools?
There was nothing fundamentally wrong with the old funding formula. But it had two problems: 1) it wasn’t recession proof (or at least recession-tolerant) and 2) it wasn’t predictable at the state level. The closest thing I’ve seen to a “plan” so far would largely reinstate the time- and court-tested old formula. But there is one change: the almost total loss of local budget control. Your local school board would have very limited ability to raise and spend money on the kind of education their residents want. I am not a fan of this idea. I believe the key is something like the revenue sharing model found in professional sports. Wealthy districts are free to raise as much additional money as they want, but over certain thresholds, some of that money would go to poorer districts.
What is your number one priority for the upcoming legislative session and how do you plan to address it?
See above. If the Legislature can’t get those two things right, we won’t have the means to tackle anything else. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things to work on (civil asset forfeiture, Medicaid expansion, the $1 billion loan Brownback took from Wall Street to shore up KPERS, etc., etc…). But public education is literally the first job the State Constitution gives the government – the first five Articles set up the government and the sixth sets up the schools. It’s time we started acting like it was our first priority again.
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