Overland Park — Democrat Chris Biggs and Republican Phill Kline on Tuesday sharply differed on the issue of public school funding during a debate in their race for Kansas attorney general.
Biggs, the 14-year Geary County prosecutor, and Kline, a former state legislator from Shawnee, faced off before about 100 people from various Johnson County chambers of commerce. The election is Nov. 5.
In response to a question, Kline said if elected attorney general he will defend in court local jurisdictions that raise taxes to increase aid to their local schools, such as what Johnson County recently approved.
"I will stand up and defend local control," Kline said, especially in the case of the one-quarter cent sales tax increase for schools that was approved by Johnson County voters in August.
The measure is being challenged in court. Critics say the state should be responsible for funding public schools. They say allowing local districts to raise taxes will lead to an unequal school system where students in wealthy areas will have an unfair advantage over children in poorer areas.
Biggs applauded the voters of Johnson County for wanting to improve their schools, but said it is the Legislature's duty under the state constitution to properly fund public schools.
"As attorney general I would carefully review the law and make a decision based on the constitution," he said.
For more on this story, tune in at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to the 6News report on Sunflower Broadband's cable Channel 6. You can also read more details of Tuesday's debates in Overland Park and in Topeka between the two candidates in Wednesday's Journal-World.