This evening, Governor Brownback delivered his third State of the State Address. The House Chamber was filled with Representatives, Senators, Supreme Court Judges, Cabinet Members and invited guests. The Governor promoted a very ambitious agenda for the upcoming session and the rotunda was filled with lots of buzz as people digested and responded to many of the ideas set forth. Tomorrow, the Governor will release his two-year budget proposal (FY 2014 and FY 2015).
While there were some surprises in the Governor's speech, many of the [education-related] issues were not entirely new. Regarding K-12 education, the Governor announced his Kansas Reads to Succeed initiative to achieve his goal of increasing the number of fourth graders reading at grade level. The initiative will provide $12 million to support innovative programs to help struggling readers and incentives to elementary schools that most successfully increase fourth grading reading scores.
The Governor also maintained that funding for BSAPP would not be cut and that there would be more money for K-12 education (his budget will be released tomorrow morning). At the same time, he emphasized his desire for education to be more effective and efficient in spending, though he did not acknowledge the work of the School Efficiency Task Force that met this Fall.
And finally, the Governor asked lawmakers to make clear in state law that it is the legislative branch that is authorized to appropriate public money. “The “power of the purse” is the primary power of the Legislature, not the Executive or the Judiciary,” Brownback said. “And so I ask you to make it clear in law that defining what is “suitable provision” for public funding of education is a job for the people’s elected representatives – and no one else.” The Governor issued this same call last session.
The Governor went on to discuss his other goals for the State, including taxes. Highlights from his tax proposal include:
- keep the sales tax at its current level
- cut income taxes to 1.9 percent on the lower rate and 3.5 on the top rate, as part of a glide path to zero (0).
The Governor maintains that the state can further reduce taxes and not impact essential services. Following the State of the State, several groups indicated they would not support an extension of the sales tax.
In his parting words, the Governor encouraged lawmakers to value the relationships they made while serving, seek mentors for guidance and focus on serving their constituents.
To read the complete text of the Governor's State of the State Address, click on the link below.