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Brownback: Education rightfully biggest chunk of state budget

But funding system should be reformed, candidate says

Staff writer

Kansas’ school funding system has been litigated almost constantly since the current system was installed in 1994, Sen. Sam Brownback, Republican nominee for governor, said at a campaign stop Friday in Marion.

Education funding — for school districts and higher education — represents about two-thirds of the state’s general fund, he said during his stop at Country Lakes Café.

But the state needs to find a funding formula that works for urban and rural districts, he said. He added that school financing should be up to the legislature to decide rather than the courts.

When he took questions, the first was whether he would support forced consolidation of schools. Brownback said forced consolidation of schools was a line he would not cross.

“If you take a school out of town, you kill the town,” he said.

Brownback also spoke about the Flint Hills, which he said were an untapped resource. A retiring Kansas State University professor has outlined a plan to make the Flint Hills the “Sturgis of horses” — referring to the South Dakota town’s association with motorcycles.

About 80 percent of Kansas counties are losing population, and jobs are the key to reversing that trend, Brownback said. Repealing unnecessary and harmful regulations would be a way to create jobs, he said.

Brownback has represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate since 1996 when he won a special election to fill the seat vacated by Bob Dole. He also served one term in the House of Representatives from Kansas’ 2nd District.

Legislative candidates also attended the campaign stop. Jeff Longbine, Republican nominee for state Senate District 17, and Rep. J. Robert Brookens, Republican nominee for state House of Representatives District 70, spoke.

Longbine said reducing waste in state government was a priority. The city of Emporia has instituted a merit pay system that rewards department heads for being careful with budgets, which he has supported as a city commissioner.

Last modified Oct. 7, 2010

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