‘Something to Think About’ from Brent Windsor, Emporia Board of Education
I recently saw a quote by John F. Kennedy that would provide perfect guidance for our Governor and legislative leaders. It reads, “Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” Seems quite simple doesn’t it? Not really. I would suggest that none of us are quick to admit our mistakes of the past; myself included. Yet given the current financial crisis our State is in, there is no better stance to take than to realize and admit the tax policy implemented in 2012 is no longer sustainable.
I have never witnessed a situation where our leaders refuse to see the impact of their previous decisions and continue to ignore the actions necessary to bring Kansas back to financial stability. Two weeks ago, the Governor announced that he would reduce K-12 and higher education budgets by $44.5 million. This goes directly against the promise he made during his re-election campaign that he would not reduce funding to education. During his State of the State address, the Governor even went so far as to blame education for the reason Kansas is in financial trouble. I find that hard to swallow when tax cuts implemented in 2012 have resulted in a $344 million dollar deficit projected for this year and an additional $600 million for FY ’16.
These decisions will hit Emporia in many ways. Our school district will certainly lose $269,000 and if future payment delays are implemented, as projected, those losses will easily rise to $517,000 or more. ESU will see cuts of $632,000, our civic infrastructure will begin to degrade and Emporians depending on social assistance will find it harder to meet their needs.
I am extremely concerned with disinformation distributed by various interest groups, including the Governor’s office, as they publish messages that are misleading and include half-truths. Last week I heard the comment, “education isn’t getting cut, it’s just getting less of an increase over the previous year.” Well yes, I suppose that could be true. But the rest of the story is that total spending on education is at the lowest it has been since 1985 at only 4.48% of Kansan’s personal income. And now the Courts have ruled that Kansas is not meeting its constitutional obligation to provide a public education for every child in this State.
When will our governor and legislative body realize that our current tax policy is not sustainable? The realization is probably already there. I simply ask that the Governor, and the legislature, look at the results and understand that Kansas is not a State that can survive on a low-to-no income tax policy. What prevents our leadership from admitting that their experiment isn’t working and modifications need to be made? What would happen if mistakes were admitted and a path towards growth was implemented?
This legislative session has definitely started with a bang, full of controversy and misguided action that will only result in bad policy limiting the rights of our community and cutting budgets from education and state agencies that are already struggling. I encourage you to use your voice and follow in the footsteps of a great leader. “Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
I’m Brent Windsor and that’s something to think about.