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Archive for Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Brownback: Legislature, not courts, should decide school funding

January 15, 2014, 7:43 p.m. Updated January 15, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

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2014 State of the State of Kansas Address ( .PDF )

Gov. Sam Brownback delivers his annual State of the State address in the House of Representatives at the Statehouse in Topeka, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Brownback's speech outlined his policy priorities for the 2014 legislative session. Behind Brownback are Senate president Susan Wagle and Speaker of the House Ray Merrick.

Gov. Sam Brownback delivers his annual State of the State address in the House of Representatives at the Statehouse in Topeka, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Brownback's speech outlined his policy priorities for the 2014 legislative session. Behind Brownback are Senate president Susan Wagle and Speaker of the House Ray Merrick.

Gov. Sam Brownback greets Rep. Paul Davis D-Lawrence, as Brownback enters the House of Representatives to deliver his State of the State address at the Statehouse in Topeka, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014.

Gov. Sam Brownback greets Rep. Paul Davis D-Lawrence, as Brownback enters the House of Representatives to deliver his State of the State address at the Statehouse in Topeka, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014.

— Starting a new legislative session during an election year and with a state Supreme Court ruling on school finance expected any day, Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday said his conservative Republican policies have helped lift Kansas from the Great Recession.

“Three years in, we are in a much better position,” Brownback said in his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature.

Brownback took a verbal swipe at the Kansas Supreme Court over the school finance case as five of the seven justices sat nearby.

The court is expected to rule soon on a lower court panel ruling that the state has unconstitutionally cut school budgets and must increase education funding by nearly $500 million per year. If the court rules against the state, the question then will become whether the Republican-dominated Legislature will comply with the order or defy the Supreme Court.

Brownback said the Legislature — not the courts — should be in charge of school funding.

He added, “Let us resolve that our schools remain open and are not closed by the courts or anyone else.”

Republican legislators leaped to their feet and applauded, but the justices, including Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, sat expressionless.

State Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said she hoped Brownback’s comments and the Republican response meant that the majority party in the Legislature is serious about increasing funding to schools.

Brownback’s likely Democratic opponent, House Minority Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence, gave the Democratic response, saying Brownback’s “reckless” tax policies have hurt the state and middle class Kansans who struggle to make ends meet.

“Our schools are suffering, jobs remain scarce, and property taxes are sky-rocketing. Meanwhile, big, politically connected corporations seem to get all the breaks,” Davis said.

On higher education, Brownback gave no indication of what funding level he would propose. Last year, Brownback and Republican legislative leaders reduced higher education spending, including a $13.5 million cut to Kansas University.

“In my budget proposal, I will continue to support our universities, community and technical colleges and I am confident they will produce the next generation of Kansas leaders,” he said.

Brownback reiterated his proposal to provide full state funding for all-day kindergarten.

Democrats said Brownback’s plan was an empty proposal because the governor’s tax cuts had depleted the treasury.

“The reality is there is no money to pay for it,” said state Rep. John Wilson, D-Lawrence.

State Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said there weren’t a lot of specifics in Brownback’s speech. “It was a rah rah speech,” he said, typical of what other governors have given.

Davis took aim at Brownback’s tax changes. Brownback has pushed through cuts in state income tax rates and eliminated income taxes for nearly 200,000 business owners, but increased the state sales tax while decreasing tax credits and deductions.

“It’s time to change direction,” said Davis, who recorded the Democratic Party message from Hillcrest School, where his mother taught second grade for nearly 20 years and where he went to school.

He said the Brownback tax policy has shifted the tax burden to middle- and low-income Kansans and squeezed funding for schools and social services.

Brownback said that since he took office, the Kansas unemployment rate decreased from 6.9 percent to 5.1 percent. He also said that state government spending is now under control.

“Our dependence is not on Big Government but on a Big God that loves us and lives within us,” he said.

Comments

Bob Forer 8 months ago

Where is all the new business, Brownback, that you assured would shortly follow your tax cuts for the wealthy? How bout some figures. Most of us are savvy enough not to trust a politician based solely on their word.

And whats going to happen once the Supreme Court reaffirms the Ct of Appeals' school financing decision? Do you have half a billion bucks hidden in your mattress at the governor's mansion? Or are you going to increase the tax burden on the middle class and working poor like you did last time?

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Brandon Correll 8 months ago

That new MARS factory in Topeka! A lot of KCMO businesses are moving to the KS side. Cerner at the Legends, Sporting KC. Lower/no income taxes are good. Higher sales tax rates is the fairest way of taxing people. Richer people will buy more, thus paying more taxes. How does that not make since to people.

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Rick Masters 8 months ago

"How does that not make since to people."

C-

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Andrew Dufour 8 months ago

you realize that pretty much every business you mentioned moved to the Kansas side long before the tax cuts right?

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Seth Peterson 8 months ago

Because a lot of that is not true; especially the concept of sales tax rates. People do not necessarily spend proportionate to their income, nor do they spend those expenses in the same way.

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Brandon Correll 8 months ago

So those people with more money dont buy cars, boats, tvs, or other large dollar items more frequently than people that cant afford these things? And property taxes increasing is a tax on wealthier families as well. Plus people living off government assistance dont pay sales tax on their purchases. So the tax burden is not being shifted to lower income families.

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Andrew Dufour 8 months ago

Brandon no matter how rich you are you still only need so many pillows for your bed, or sheets for your bed, or cleaning supplies for your house or any number of other things that are not really dependent upon your income. A very wealthy simply does not spend the same portion of his income on sales tax as a poor individual. You can argue it if you want but it's a fairly accepted fact that sales and property taxes are quite regressive by definition.

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Kendall Simmons 8 months ago

Uh..."people living off government assistance dont pay sales tax on their purchases"??? Where on earth did you get that idea?

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Brandon Correll 8 months ago

People with food stamps do not pay sales tax on their food!!

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Andrew Dufour 8 months ago

You do realize that many people on government assistance are not exclusively on food stamps and do pay sales tax on everything else they purchase correct?

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Kendall Simmons 8 months ago

It doesn't make "since" to us because you're making a lot of assumptions. Never mind your assumption that "new business" is moving to Kansas because of Brownback's tax changes. Others have already responded to that.

But you're apparently assuming (albeit not necessarily consciously) that the impact of sales taxes on people is the same at all income levels.

You see a flat percentage. Period. I mean, to you, apparently, 6.15% is 6.15% and there's nothing more to consider. (And this ignores the higher sales taxes paid in certain cities/special districts, currently up to as high as 9.775%.)

But if Family A has $300 a month available to spend on food and necessities for his/her family (Kansas being one of those very few foolish states that disgustingly charge sales tax on food), while Family B has $3,000 a month available to spend on food and necessities, surely you don't think that B is going to spend 10 times as much on food and necessities, do you? Or even spend all $3,000...period? Or only on sales taxable items in Kansas?

What you need to do is think about the effect of that 6.15%.

It's $18.45 for Family A with only $300 a month to spend on food and necessities. Think about how much food could be bought with $18.45. How many meals could be prepared. But, instead, that money is unavailable. That food can't be bought. Those meals can't be cooked. Because there is no additional money. While Family B, in the meantime, doesn't notice the sales tax at all because there is additional money. It does NOT prevent them from buying food.

Unless Kansas removes the sales tax on at least food, then your sales tax is a REGRESSIVE tax. In real life, it far more negatively impacts low income people than high income people. And that's selfish and unnecessary.

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David Reber 8 months ago

Also consider that low-income people typically spend 100% of their income, and thus pay that 6.15% tax on 100% of their income. Wealthy folks tend to leave a lot more of their income sitting in bank account or invested in stocks rather than spending it, and thus only pay that 6.15% tax on a small fraction of their income.

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Andrew Dufour 8 months ago

but but but that person making 3000 will just spend the remainder on boats and ATV's and such because as we all know the wealthy spend every penny that they take in immediately.

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Rick Masters 8 months ago

Bob, stop copying off me!!!

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Brandon Correll 8 months ago

The people with 3000 will be more likely to go out and spend more money at restaurants, movie theatres, sporting events, etc. Creating jobs for others and spending more sales tax on these types of purchases. The more income tax they are charged the less money they have to spend in the public. Or they will start to move to other states such as Texas or Florida. Lowering income taxes isn't just about the people living in the state of KS, it is about being more attractive to outside businesses and consumers.

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Andrew Dufour 8 months ago

Brandon I'm sorry but you're not going to win the argument that a sales tax isn't regressive. It's simply flat out 100% more regressive than a progressive income tax system. The wealthy do not spend the same percentage of their income on necessities or even luxuries as the poor do. A wealthy individual and mind you I"m talking about extremely wealthy, the ones that benefited the most from the income tax change in Kansas, do not spend every penny of their paycheck on necessities/luxuries regardless of how many movies they see etc. They save for college, 401k, HSA's, general savings, mutual funds, etc none of which is subject to sales tax. Ergo a good percentage of their income is not taxed add that to the fact that they flat out make more and the percentage of their income going to sales tax is significantly less than the percentage of income going to sales tax for someone who lives paycheck to paycheck.

We can have a separate debate over the merits of cutting income taxes to attract businesses/people (which I'm sure we would also disagree on) but regarding the regressive nature of sales tax, that debate is not even really a debate.

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William Weissbeck 8 months ago

What planet is this? Rich people don't buy more food than poor people. While we think they buy more clothes and shoes - there's a limit to what a millionaire can buy. And the rich have figured out on the purchase of luxury items to structure the purchases to avoid sales tax whenever possible. And businesses moving from Missouri - I thought Missouri was a tax haven too. They at least have a moderate governor, but the legislature is even more bat guano crazy than even Kansas.

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Richard Heckler 8 months ago

Where is that MARS factory that received $9,000,000 tax moochin $$$$$ to relocate thus leaving behind some newly unemployed hard working Americans?

AMC received $47 million tax moochin $$$$$ to relocate across the border thus creating no new employment. Then AMC was sold off to a Chinese conglomerate. Where in the world did those $47 million tax $$$$$$$$ go? Can we taxpayers take them back?

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8 months ago

This is a shill game. How much will we allow corporations to use our resources for no fee and also allow them to pay slave wages. Then on top of that, they can pollute all they want, without penalty. That is what we have with this governor. Then you believe that increasing sales tax is a good thing. That only costs poor people more money that they don't have, then they spend less and that causes a shrinkage in the economy. You have been fooled on every count Brandon and ignorance will keep you voting against your own interests. Shameful behavior.

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8 months ago

Sales tax is the least fair way to tax people. It means that the poorer you are, the more you will have to pay, percentage wise, of your income. Simple math; if one has 100 dollars to spend, 10% would decrease that to 90 dollars. If you have 10,000 dollars, you have 9,000 left to spend. 90 dollars, vs 9000 dollars. The person who has 90 dollars already can't pay the rent and utilities. The person with 9000.00 is very well blessed indeed. Where is the fairness of that. Secondly, the person who makes more money is often using more of the resources of the state to make that money. So, they make more off of the commonwealth, then pay for less for what they make. How is that fair. Lastly, too many of the wealthy are not investing in businesses in the US and they even put a lot of money in foreign banks. That allows more money to leave this country which shrinks our economy. With people earning less money, they spend less and that also shrinks the economy. The policies that Brownback selects have already proven to be damaging to the economy and destructive to the nation in all ways. Your ignorance keeps you voting against your interests and against the interests of this country. Shameful behavior.

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Bob Forer 8 months ago

Darn it, Barb, you beat me to it. I would applaud you for a great comment, but then I would be patting myself on the back.

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Richard Heckler 8 months ago

Can't believe a word Sam ALEC Brownback says. This line of political rhetoric has been applied for going on 33 years. Reckless Supply Side Economics produces more tax taxes on the lower 99%, does not create NEW jobs nor NEW economic growth.

Meet ALEC Wreckanomics also known as smoke and mirrors GOP nonsense… http://www.jimhightower.com/node/7723#.UkS9vBaTOX0

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Richard Heckler 8 months ago

"State Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said there weren’t a lot of specifics in Brownback’s speech. “It was a rah rah speech,” he said, typical of what other governors have given."

Typical of a governor that has sold their soul to ALEC. These liars don't think for themselves not even a little bit.

United States of ALEC – Bill Moyers http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27/the_united_states_of_alec_bill

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Richard Heckler 8 months ago

"Brownback: Legislature, not courts, should decide school funding"

What Brownback actually said is he will ignore the courts' ruling and be in contempt of court. Then spend tons of tax dollars on lawyers because he is a white collar law breaker.

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William Enick 8 months ago

Big Government -VS- Big God...who to depend on...Brownback says Big God...but Big God didn't undermine Big Government, (which was a successful way of organizing people through a collective assistance venture...) ALEC did. Someone needs to tell Brownback that we need to depend on ALEC. Better yet tell him Big God probably would love to work with ALEC on this dependency thing...I wanna be dependent... education costs too much...plus people become educated and all Hell breaks loose.

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Julius Nolan 8 months ago

It's obvious that Brownback doesn't understand our system of government. There are 3 co-equal branches. Legislative, Judicial and Executive. Brownback, in spite of what the Koch's and his god, maybe he thinks they are the same, only is responsible for the executive, The reason we have the Judicial is to stop people like Brownback from trying to be a dictator or turn our government into a theocracy. Maybe someone needs to talk real slow and draw lots of graphics to explain to Brownback, he's neither a god nor dictator.

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Brett McCabe 8 months ago

We get what we deserve, folks. We allowed him to be elected and now we tend to act like victims. The question to each of us is this: are we going to allow it to happen again? Are we content to live in the most backward state in America? Or are we going to do something about it?

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Scott Burkhart 8 months ago

Yes. I say reelect Governor Brownback.

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Julius Nolan 8 months ago

Yes, that's just what we need. 4 more years of total incompetence and the Koch's will control the state and make it into their own fiefdom. And the average taxpayer will go bankrupt paying for the Koch's tax breaks.

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Mike Ford 8 months ago

I'm beginning to think that the sheep aren't in the field.

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Bart Johnson 8 months ago

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The consumer should decide how much funding education gets. All the government is deciding is how to divy up the stolen loot.

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Bart Johnson 8 months ago

99% of those in the government are not elected. Additionally, your vote does not count. In a free market, if you "vote" for Chevy you get a Chevy, if you "vote" for Ford, you get a Ford. In government it doesn't matter who you vote for because your vote only counts if there's a tie and there has never been a tie. Also, politicians have no contract with voters. They can lie to get office and do what they want. You cannot sue your elected official for not keeping his promises. Even if they do what you voted them in for, there's nothing stopping them or the next round of elected officials from turning it right back around. Finally there is no option of choosing no one to be in charge or choosing to save my money instead of spend it on these things.

There is no consumer/producer relationship. If I choose not to buy an IPod, Apple doesn't show up to my house, point a gun at me and force me to buy one.

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Bart Johnson 8 months ago

You are just spouting pure ideology that is completely divorced from reality. Saying that we can "vote the bums out" is just propaganda. You can't vote anyone out by yourself, and most people do not have the resources or time to recruit enough people to side with them.

Also you have no connection to reality when you talk about how the 1% that is actually elected would do anything for the voters about the 99%. Do you really think that the teachers who have been around thirty to fourty years are actually sweating when a new school board is elected? If you believe that you can change the way the DMV is run or the staff at the local school by voting in a new legislature you are in the land of ideology and not reality.

Even if your ideology was reality, think of how absurd all that is. If a person doesn't like the "price" of their local school, they have to spend enormous amounts of time, money and energy into convincing thousands upon thousands of people to vote for the correct candidates, who arrive on a mandate and are all moral, upstanding people who keep their promises and who completely revamp the costs of education and the tax system used to fund it. On the free market, if you don't like the price of something, you go across the street and buy it from the competition, or you don't buy it at all. Why on Earth would you prefer this completely impractical and absurd system to one that is so simple, easy and actually accomplishable in reality?

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Bart Johnson 8 months ago

I can't imagine the amount of cognitive dissonance required to maintain your ideology in the face of reality when there is so much evidence against it. The only answer is that being raised by teachers you have been instilled with this ideology because of their self-interest in maintaining such a system. Your comment about having little sympathy for someone who just isn't trying hard enough tells me you really believe in your ideology even when reality shows that only the rich and powerful can have any effect in the government. You're so dismissive of the reality of the free market which is that an individual can call the shots on how his money is spent. This is a reality that you deal with every single day of your life, but yet your ideology refuses to give way to.

At some point, the empirical evidence of reality has to be acknowledged and your ideology scrapped, or else the cognitive dissonance that is created will only cause you to be upset and miserable. I used to believe in the system I was taught about in public schools as well, and it was quite frustrating. Seeing it for the delusion it is makes me a lot happier and relaxed, and allows me to spend my energies on making my life better using things that I can change in reality.

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Bart Johnson 8 months ago

Let's use the facts and reality to examine your assumption about Somalia. Somalia is not a particularly nice place to live compared to countries like the US or Canada. Now your assumption seems to be that Somalia is that way because it does not have a centralized government to interfere in the free market. Do the facts match your ideology here? Did Somalia get to be the way it is because of the free market? Well, in 1970 Somalia became a socialist dictatorship with full central planning of the economy. In 1975 all land was nationalized and agriculture was turned over to massive state-run collectives. From 1983 to 1990 the Somali currency depreciated at a average annual rate of over 100 percent against the US dollar due to hyperinflation by the Somali government. By the late 1980s, malnutrition and starvation were common as Somalia had the lowest caloric intake in the world. After the fall of the government in 1991, life expectancy has gone up, infant mortality has gone down, average caloric intake has gone up, numbers of doctors per 1000 people have gone up, extreme poverty has gone down, the number of TVs, radios and telephones per 1000 people have all gone up, and deaths from violence have gone down.

What does the empirical evidence have to say? It says that Somalia got to be the way it is because of socialism, and after the collapse of the government, things have improved. So socialism and central planning are proved to be failures and thus we should stay away from those ideologies.

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Bart Johnson 8 months ago

Well, those are the facts about Somalia. It was socialism that made that country so poor and awful, not libertarianism.

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Bob Zimmerman 8 months ago

Kansas don't need no more edumacations. Them smart people only move away.

Just keep cutting income taxes so that rich people come here and create jobs in meat packing and plastic molding.

And God likes rich people...so that means he even want lower taxes.

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Beator 8 months ago

Is it appropriate to say the money spent on education for the last 50 years got Kansas where it is today? And so, more money, will take Kansas where? Just a few million more will put Kansas over the top?

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Larry Sturm 8 months ago

Jesus had contempt for rich people taking from the poor. Jesus said a rich man will have a very hard time getting into heaven,and the poor will inherit the kingdom of God. BROWNBACK IS BAD FOR KANSAS.

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Steve King 8 months ago

Richard, that was a nice link to where all the problems lay:

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27/the_united_states_of_alec_bill

EVERYBODY needs to read this.

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Greg Cooper 8 months ago

I agree that this link should be read by everyone. The problem is that the majority of "everyone" won't read it because it's too long and has too many ideas crammed into it. The things that stick in "everyone's" minds are sound bites, like "No new taxes" and things of that nature that require absolutely no critical thought and convey a goal without a means of attaining that goal.

It's a shame that we, as voters, have to actually take part in our government by thinking and showing by our preferences the direction, the philosophy and the means we prefer to reach our goals. The voters are at faullt that we have gotten what we have now. Sam did not simply arrive on the scene as a dictator; he did not find a niche in the law that allowed him and his to circumvent the law and thumb his nose at the Supreme Court, because there is no niche like that.

What he did was to do what he was told like a good little Alec and lead (?) the state into a business owners' Utopia and a citizens' nightmare. How? By doing what he was told without any resistance from the opposition party. We are all (those who did not vote against him, especially) at fault and should renounce our shame and get with the program. Otherwise the program will totally pass us by.

It takes more than a two or thre word pass-phrase to convery the complexity of the governing system we have. We have to learn its intricacies and work the system to bring about real, meaningful, and fair change.

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Bob Forer 8 months ago

Big God for the big monied people?

Silly me. I thought the Christian God depicted in the bible is "regular sized" and looks out for the little people

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Richard Heckler 8 months ago

FYI:

ALEC – The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in State Legislatures http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-state-legislatures

ALEX EXPOSED – The Koch Connection http://www.thenation.com/article/161973/alec-exposed-koch-connection

ALEC – Ghostwriting The Law for Corporate America http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/15044.htm

Through ALEC, corporations voted bills to rewrite the tax code that would increase their profits or the riches of their CEOs by:
 through http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

ALEC Private Schools - Corporate Education Reformers Plot Next Steps at Secretive Meeting http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/02/02-9

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Steve King 8 months ago

Your right Gregg. The vast majority doesn't pay attention. The old 3 second billboard read.

The plan is to privatize everything. And do it at the state levels. KS, AZ, WI, TX. Mirror image legislations.

Scott Walker to me is the most transparent goose stepper. A 100,000 people took to the streets, the money poured in and the money won.

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Richard Heckler 8 months ago

The most reliable source of fraud comes from private industry and supported by legislators that which turn a blind eye.

Where should the list start?

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Richard Heckler 8 months ago

Now the state is in worst condition with right wing republicans having been in complete control of Kansas State Government.

Hmmmmmmmmm

The writing is on the wall! The Kansas GOP cannot manage effective economic growth, cannot manage effective public school funding and cannot improve the job market. Killing jobs is their area of expertise.

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Richard Heckler 8 months ago

Meanwhile…

ALEC has a new partner named Aegis Strategic

The firm, named Aegis Strategic, is run by a former top executive at Charles and David Koch's flagship advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, and it was founded with the blessing of the brothers' political advisers, three Republican operatives tell Mother Jones.

The consulting firm plans to handpick local, state, and federal candidates who share the Kochs' free-market, limited-government agenda, and groom them to win elections. "We seek out electable advocates of the freedom and opportunity agenda who will be forceful at both the policy and political levels," the company notes on its website. Aegis says it can manage every aspect of a campaign, including advertising, direct mail, social media, and fundraising. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/koch-brothers-candidate-training-recruiting-aegis-strategic

John Birch Society Celebrates Koch Family For Their Role In Founding The Hate Group http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/06/10/242334/john-birch-society-celebrates-koch/

United States of ALEC http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27/the_united_states_of_alec_bill

ALEC – The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in State Legislatures http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-state-legislatures

ALEX EXPOSED – The Koch Connection http://www.thenation.com/article/161973/alec-exposed-koch-connection

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