Holland says Brownback school plan would raise property taxes; offers debate anytime

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Holland said Friday that his Republican opponent Sam Brownback’s plan for school finance would force property taxes upwards.

Citing a quote from a Kansas City TV interview, Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City, charged that Brownback, a US senator from Topeka, wants to change the school finance system to something “more like an earlier school finance bill in Kansas, before the current bill.”

The current finance plan was put together by lawmakers after medium-sized districts succeeded in a court case challenging whether the state was meeting its constitutional obligation to provide suitable education throughout the state.

“Under the old formula, the one Sam Brownback wants to go back to, communities like Wichita had to raise their property taxes to pay for schools,” Holland said. “The state had failed to fund schools, so local communities were raising taxes to keep the chalk in the tray and books on the shelf.”

Holland, the underdog in the race, challenged Brownback to face him in more debates than the two currently scheduled in the race.

The first meeting was a made-for-radio debate at the State Fair Sept. 11, arranged by Topeka station WIBW. A second debate is tentatively scheduled for noon Oct. 13, to be televised on WIBW-TV.

Holland noted that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and her opponent, Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, debated five times in their 2006 gubernatorial race, including once in Wichita.

Holland said he thinks Brownback should agree to a similar series of debates and that in his view, Brownback owes Wichita, the state’s largest city, at least one opportunity to see the candidates head to head.

Both Holland and Brownback have solo appearances coming up in Wichita. Holland said he would clear his schedule to accommodate Brownback’s timetable and he’s willing to meet him in debate anytime.