Archive for Sunday, March 9, 2014

Kansas Democrats upbeat about governor’s race

March 9, 2014


— Kansas Democrats said Saturday that a day-old school funding ruling from the state's highest court will help their chances of unseating Republican Gov. Sam Brownback this year as Democratic challenger Paul Davis makes education spending the cornerstone issue of his campaign.

Several hundred Democratic officials and activists gathered in Topeka for their biggest annual statewide meeting, Washington Days. Events began Friday and included receptions, speeches, caucuses, party-building workshops, a fundraising auction and a late-night dance.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday in a lawsuit filed by parents and districts that the state's school funding is unconstitutional. The unanimous decision directed the GOP-dominated Legislature to boost aid to poor districts by July 1 and ordered more lower-court hearings on how much the state must spend overall to provide an adequate education to every child.

"It gives us confirmation of what we believe, which is that people want to see their schools funded, and we have been shirking our duty," said state Rep. Julie Menghini, a Pittsburg Democrat.

Democrats make up less than 25 percent of the state's 1.7 million registered voters, compared with 44 percent for Republicans. Davis, the Kansas House minority leader, has mounted a spirited challenge to Brownback's re-election, raising $1 million in cash contributions in less than five months at the end of 2013.

Davis skipped Saturday morning and afternoon events in Topeka to spend time with family in Lawrence. But in a Saturday evening banquet speech, he said Kansans are "passionate about restoring our schools."

"We believe we have a moral obligation to educate our children," Davis said in his prepared remarks, which he released before his speech.

The governor on Friday described the Supreme Court ruling as "an opportunity for progress." Brownback and GOP legislative leaders said that they're pleased with the decision because the court didn't set a specific target for overall spending and that the justices gave lawmakers a lot of discretion in improving aid to poor districts.

Kansas GOP Executive Director Clay Barker also noted that the Supreme Court's guidelines for examining total spending focus on whether students are performing up to expectations, rather than raw estimates for schools' costs. Top Republicans have long argued that the state ought to focus on outcomes, not money.

"It does change the dynamics of the debate," Barker said. "It was kind of an accounting fight."

In wooing unaffiliated voters and disaffected moderate Republicans, Davis has criticized Brownback for pursuing income tax cuts worth nearly $3.9 billion over the next five years as an economic stimulus, rather than fully restoring cuts in base aid to public schools that started in 2009 because of the Great Recession.

The state's yearly base aid to schools is $386 million lower than it was for the 2008-09 school year. It's now $3,838 per student instead of $4,400.

The figure increased slightly in 2012, and the state has covered other costs, such as rising teacher pension payments. Brownback has proposed phasing in full state funding for all-day kindergarten programs, and he's repeatedly noted that total aid to schools — more than just base aid, from local, state and federal sources — has increased since he took office.

Democrats said Brownback's all-day kindergarten proposal or his reaction to the court ruling won't remove school funding as a major issue.

"Kansans in many polls overwhelmingly support public education and increasing funding for public education," said Lee Kinch, a Wichita attorney and the Kansas Democratic Party's vice chairman. "That is THE big issue."


MerriAnnie Smith 4 years, 1 month ago

Tricky Brownback went to bed smiling because no specific funding amount was set and he and his co-horts think that means they still have an opportunity to destroy public schools by pointing to the ones where the kids are not performing at a good rate. He knows that he and his followers (and his supporters like the Koch brothers) are crafty enough to come up with a way to show that public schools are performing so inadequately that they should be given much less money. Instead they think we should give the money to For Profit private schools, that can exclude children who can't perform up to their standards.

That will leave the state with what they think is a good excuse to just provide daycare for all poorly performing students at a lot less money. And that way the For Profit businessmen will get wealthy off their For Profit school investments. The more struggling students they reject, the higher their school's ratings will be, and the more money the state will spend on them, causing the businessmen to make more and more money. It's like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

And of course, then after rejecting all the students who struggle, they will point out to ignorant people how it means For Profit schools are better at teaching kids. When in fact, they're only better at rejecting kids who struggle, and they're good at finding ways to make money off the taxpayer.

MerriAnnie Smith 4 years, 1 month ago

The thought won't leave me alone that Brownback and his cronies may be so happy about this because they think they could have some political pull over the lower court judges. Remember how he tried to change the constitution so he could appoint his own judges? Somebody who knows more about that than I do... can you explain it better?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago

No Child Left Behind and K-12 Inc have been their tools for a few years that were designed to produce less than desirable numbers. For profit charter schools is their primary objective supported with public school tax dollars aka guaranteed profits. After all CEO's and golden parachutes require big dollars.

James Howlette 4 years, 1 month ago

Isn't that pretty much what our favorite professional Koch messenger boy always tries to do? He claims money doesn't matter, so why don't we give all this money (that doesn't matter) to a pseudo free-market system that will invisible hand all our education to greatness. You know, like for-profits did for higher education.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago

ALEC Waging War on Clean Energy and Supports Air Pollution

Over the coming year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) will promote legislation with goals ranging from penalising individual homeowners and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, which is Barack Obama's main channel for climate action.

Details of Alec's strategy to block clean energy development at every stage – from the individual rooftop to the White House – are revealed as the group gathers for its policy summit in Washington this week.

begins on Wednesday with appearances by the Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson and the Republican budget guru and fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan.

Other Alec speakers will be a leading figure behind the recent government shutdown, US senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and the governors of Indiana and Wyoming, Mike Pence and Matt Mead.

For 2014, Alec plans to promote a suite of model bills and resolutions aimed at blocking Barack Obama from cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and state governments from promoting the expansion of wind and solar power through regulations known as Renewable Portfolio Standards.

Documents obtained by the Guardian show the core elements of its strategy began to take shape at the previous board meeting in Chicago in August, with meetings of its energy, environment and agriculture subcommittees.

Further details of Alec's strategy were provided by John Eick, the legislative analyst for Alec's energy, environment and agriculture program.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago

A typical anti american ALEC political campaign will be loaded with dishonest sound bites aka lies about candidates as we near November. Lots of money will be spent on character assassinations and little to nothing on the issues before us.

It is known as distract the voters as much as possible concerning the right wing mismanagement of government as Sam and the gang swindle taxpayers to support the personal agendas of ALEC.

While ALEC is removing real republicans from the GOP an organization known as Third Way is eliminating democrats from the demo party. Third Way is largely supported with Wal-Mart dollars by way of the Walton children.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 1 month ago

Spending more on education sounds great, until we find out taxes are going up.

MerriAnnie Smith 4 years, 1 month ago

Just increase the taxes back to where they were before we got into this mess. I won't have a problem with that and I've been a taxpayer in Kansas for almost 40 years.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago


In April 2012, Common Cause launched a whistleblower complaint against ALEC, charging that it misuses charity laws, massively underreports lobbying, and obtains improper tax breaks for corporate funders at the taxpayers' expense. Over 4,000 pages of ALEC documents were submitted as evidence. A supplemental submission was filed in July 2013, as a follow-up to the original complaint.

Press release April 2012

Press release July 2013

Original submission filed April 2012

Supplemental submission filed July 2013

ALEC documents

ALEC issue alerts

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