Dear Governor Brownback

      There is no lack of talk around Kansas about the conditions of the state’s finances, especially regarding our public education system. Kansas residents have been made well aware over the last few school years of the oppressive budget cuts made to public schools statewide under your guidance.  Since the last half of your second term is approaching, a little review of the last six years seems necessary.

      In 2011 you took office with a promise of fixing the Kansas budget. Being told that the state faced a projected $500 million deficit if the administration took no action, you came up with a plan to cut income, sales, and property taxes. You called this a “necessary experiment.”

     With all due respect, Governor. Your “experiment” has left Kansas broke.

     With no taxes to finance the state, the budget is basically being held up by children. In just the month of July last year $62.6 million was cut from Kansas’ budget. $17.6 million, the largest of these cuts, was made to SCHIP, a health insurance program for students. In January of this year the state faced a $190 million budget gap. The proposed solution to fixing this hole was taking $50.6 million out of the Children’s Initiative Fund and moving it to the general fund, spending only $6.5 million of this money on early childhood programs.

     This is just a small example of the cuts you’ve made affecting the youth in Kansas.

     Considering you have children of your own, it seems as though you’d value the importance of education more. According to your campaign website you believe “Every Kansas child should have access to a quality education that not only meets their individual needs but also embraces their specific talents and interests.” However, in February you announced your plan to cut $45 million from public schools and higher education. In order to make up for a large deficit in the state’s budget, caused by your administration,  it became clear half of this money would come from schools, including state universities. In the last year $1.9 million was cut from Kansas Board of Regents Incentive Grant for Education.

     In 2015 it was ruled that spending on public education had gotten so low it was unconstitutional. With no money to give and little money to take from public schools, the Supreme Court is left to clean up your mess and the solutions sound almost as ridiculous as the problem.

     The legislature has been circling around the financial crisis for months searching for answers. Since block grants didn’t work, the most reasonable answer they’ve come up with is taking money from the wealthier school districts and giving it to the poor ones. This solution seems to be dragging out the problem. It is redundant to pass around money that the state does not have in the first place. Now the Supreme Court has issued an ultimatum; all funding must be restored by June 30 or the schools will not open their doors.

     So that leaves us with the question, Governor, of what can actually be done.  Is it possible that it is time to admit your mistakes and raise taxes? Local business owners have actually urged you to raise taxes and spare their children’s education. What if instead of defending your decisions, you actually listen to the people of Kansas? Lead the state how you feel necessary, however when doing so, we ask to not let your pride get in the way.

-The World Staff