Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback continued to spar with Democrats Monday over the question of whether state funding for education has gone up or down under his administration.
Second term goals
K-12: 85 percent of high school graduates earn an industry-recognized technical certification, be accepted into a higher education institution without remediation or join the military.
Higher education: 60 percent of adults have a higher education degree or an industry-recognized certificate.
Speaking at campaign events in Johnson County and Topeka, Brownback repeated his assertion that overall education spending has gone up each year he's been in office. He also rolled out new goals for education for the next four years that focused on outcomes for both K-12 and higher education.
"We've got record amounts of money going into the K-12 classroom," Brownback said at the Topeka event. "The formula is now back in equalization as the court has ordered, and has now said it is. And my opponent (Rep.) Paul Davis voted against that. He voted against putting more money in K-12. He voted against the equalization formula."
The claim about Davis' voting record is one Brownback has repeated on the campaign trail, and one that Davis flatly rejected during speeches last weekend at the state Democratic Party's annual DemoFest convention.
Davis said he introduced a "clean" bill this year to provide the equalization money ordered by the Supreme Court. But he voted against the Republican-backed bill that eventually passed because it included additional policy provisions such as the repeal of teacher tenure rights and providing tax credits for corporations that contribute to scholarship funds for private and parochial schools.
“Sam Brownback has never made public education a priority and for him to claim otherwise is downright laughable,” Davis said in a statement released after Brownback's news conference."
According to Brownback's figures, total funding for education has grown from a little more than $3.8 billion in fiscal year 2011 when he came into office to about $4.1 billion this year.
That, however, includes the increased funding for the KPERS retirement system, as well as the increased funding ordered this year by the Kansas Supreme Court to address equity issues for lower-wealth districts.
Democrats counter that the first budget Brownback proposed included the largest single-year cut in school funding in state history - about $76 million - due mainly to the phase-out of federal stimulus money at the end of the Great Recession.
Meanwhile, the base state aid formula, which the state uses to set each district's general fund budget, has been reduced from $4,012 the year before Brownback took office to $3,852 this year.
Brownback's said Monday that his goal for K-12 education in a second term will be for 85 percent of high school graduates either to earn an industry-recognized technical certification, be accepted into a higher education institution without remediation or join the military.
For higher education, Brownback said his goal will be for 60 percent of adults to have either a higher education degree or an industry-recognized certificate.
Brownback said the state is already on its way toward achieving those goals, but he did not outline any specific new proposals to achieve them.