Kobach disputes ad, says he never called schools overfunded

photo by: John Hanna/AP File Photos

These AP file photos show two of the 2018 candidates for Kansas governor. At left is Democrat Laura Kelly; at right is Republican Kris Kobach.

Story updated at 11:57 a.m. Friday, Sept. 21.

TOPEKA — Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is disputing a new television ad in which his Democratic rival in the gubernatorial race accuses him of saying the state’s schools are overfunded.

Kobach says Sen. Laura Kelly should change or take down the ad, which began airing Thursday. In the ad, Kelly says Kobach “actually says our schools are overfunded,” citing his comments at a Republican primary debate in April in Atchison, The Kansas City Star reports.

“We had the entire section over education transcribed,” Kobach said in an interview. “And nowhere did I ever say anything like that or use the word ‘overfunded.'”

Referencing income tax cuts passed under former Gov. Sam Brownback, Kelly’s campaign said Kobach plans to repeat “the Brownback experiment,” which “would lead to another massive cut to our schools.” The cuts led to years of budget problems before the Legislature largely reversed them last year.

It doesn’t appear Kobach literally said Kansas schools are overfunded, but on numerous occasions he has characterized some districts as opulent spenders.

Kobach also opposes a $500 million school funding increase to be phased in over five years, which the Legislature approved this spring, and he says the Kansas Supreme Court overstepped its authority by ruling on education finance. He said he wants a greater share of education spending to fund classroom instruction.

Kelly supports the funding and opposes a constitutional amendment supported by Kobach that would restrict the Supreme Court’s ability to review funding for education.


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