By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
Governor Sam Brownback spent Tuesday in Liberal, enjoying one of Kansas’ longstanding traditions — Pancake Day.
He also shared some of his thoughts on the current budget situation and encouraged local units of government to plan accordingly as the state wrestles to fill a $500 million shortfall for the current fiscal year.
While Brownback committed to correcting the budget, he said there was one option that would not be used to fill the gap — tax increases.
“We are not going to raise taxes,” he said. “We have a structural spending problem, and we have to look at the school finance formula.”
Brownback has proposed a $232 per pupil cut in state funding, and the Legislature is considering hiking that cut to $272. For Liberal, that would be a reduction of $1.4 million in financing education per year.
USD No. 480’s budget has grown from $34 million 10 years ago to $62 million today.
More than half of the state’s general fund is spent on K-12 education in Kansas.
Brownback said, as far as the state is concerned, something has to be done differently.
“There will be changes coming,” he said. “We will have to tighten the budgets. People need to plan accordingly. This is where the state is.”
While some may advocate tax hikes, Brownback said the state raised the sales tax last year and still, the state is struggling financially.
“We have to hold taxes down if we are going to grow,” he said. “If you grow, more taxes come in, but you don’t grow by raising taxes.”