Less than 24 hours after Gov. Sam Brownback cut $50 million in public school funding, education was again the hot topic at the year’s second Eggs and Issues event Saturday morning.
The highest-ranking state senators from each party — Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, and Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton — joined several area legislators who spoke to about 100 attendees in the Alton Ballroom at Pachamama’s, 800 N.H.
As was the case at last month’s Eggs and Issues event, a large contingent of Lawrence school board members and district staff were in attendance, and crowd-supplied questions dove right into education.
Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, gave a passionate answer when one of the questions referred to some of the educational programs that would be cut as “fluff.”
“You think mentoring teachers is fluff? You think after-school programs are fluff?” Francisco said. “We’re not talking about fluff.”
Francisco was joined on the panel by state representatives Ann Mah, D-Topeka, TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, and State Senator Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City.
The event was the second of three Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Eggs and Issues planned for the legislative session, though the final event has yet to be scheduled.
Hank Booth, the Chamber’s government and community affairs director, said the recent activity in Topeka has created an extra need for dialogue between lawmakers and the public.
“There are so many things,” Booth said.
But education funding and the looming battles over how to deal with the state’s nearly $500 million revenue shortfall highlighted the event.
Hensley, who on Friday criticized Brownback’s education funding cut, said the state has “a difficult challenge ahead of us. We know that 2012 is going to be very difficult.”