NEJC legislators’ reactions to Brownback’s ‘State of the State’

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivered his 2014 State of the State address Wednesday. Photo via @govsambrownback Twitter account.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivered his 2014 State of the State address Wednesday. Photo via @govsambrownback Twitter account.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday delivered his annual State of the State address, using the occasion to proclaim that the state was leading an “American renaissance.”

Among the most notable parts of the speech were Brownback’s call to fund all-day kindergarten (though he didn’t go into specifics of how it would be funded), and a barb at the state’s courts suggesting that the legislature should hold the final say on school funding.

You can find full text of the Governor’s address here.

Here’s what four northeast Johnson County legislators had to say about the speech in emails to :

Rep. Barbara Bollier, District 21 (Republican)

1) Kansas is required to balance its budget EVERY YEAR so that did not need special recognition.
2) While funding all-day Kindergarten is a wonderful goal, the Governor was elusive about how it would be paid for. The revenue predictions for 2015 put us over $150 million behind what we are already funding.
3) I recognize the brilliance of three branches of government. The court evaluates cases and rules accordingly.The Gannon case will not be decided by an “opaque” entity but by the very Supreme Court of Kansas that we uphold in our constitution.

Rep. Emily Perry, District 24 (Democrat)

The Governor stated that “We Kansans love our schools and we have great schools.” I could not agree more. However, I have yet to see the funding increase our public schools and students need to succeed. I applaud the Governor for bringing the issue of all day kindergarten up in his State of the State address, and I would love to see such a program implemented. However, I am struggling to see how it will be paid for over the five years. Unless the Governor is planning on cutting other programs or proposing a tax increase, there is not enough revenue available in existing resources to fully fund all day kindergarten.

Rep. Melissa Rooker, District 25 (Republican)

I agree with the governor regarding restoration of funds to higher education, full funding of all-day kindergarten and the importance of quality education when it comes to growing the economy, however I was disappointed that he did not lay out more details. It is difficult to see where we will find the money to fund the vision with the current tax structure.

Sen. Kay Wolf, Distict 7 (Republican)

Primarily a middle of the road speech with the only defined new initiative being funding of all day kindergarten and $2 million in the budget to address rural housing shortages. There was mention of the judicial system not having the authority to fund schools as by constitutional statute only the legislative body has the power. Job growth, NBAF, tax relief, streamlined regulations and reformed workmen’s compensation were championed.