Brownback – A year into his job of running Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback appears to be moving away from strict ideology and toward practicality on some topics. If so, that’s a good thing for all Kansans. It appears Brownback is relearning a central lesson of American governance – ideology is best left in Washington, D.C. Out here, the focus has to be in identifying and providing what citizens need to make a better state.
Kansas City Star
School funding – Gov. Sam Brownback’s school-finance reform looks especially rough on big districts. By ending at-risk funding for poor, minority and non-English speaking students, the reform would seem to undo much of what has been done to support those students. Large districts like those in Wichita would be held harmless at present funding levels, through grants the district could decide how to spend. But because those districts, like many others in the state, are fighting budget crunches, the grant funds are almost bound to be eaten up before they reach at-risk kids. The governor’s reforms have the virtue of simplifying the arcane, inside-baseball system we have now for state aid to public schools. But as reported in the press, the reforms would seem to move the state back more than a decade in terms of responsiveness to the changing demographics of its school-aged population.
Winfield Daily Courier
Regardless of what Kansans think about the current school-funding formula or the one Gov. Sam Brownback proposes, financing education by litigation is not the way to do things. Brownback’s staff feels the proposed formula will meet constitutional muster and end repeated litigation. That alone would be enough reason to begin the discussion.
Online sales – It is time to get serious about taxing online sales just the same as purchases made in a physical store. The different standard is unfair to local merchants and is siphoning revenue from cities and counties that depend on sales-tax revenue to help pay for government services. A University of Tennessee study estimates that Kansas will lose $108 million in revenue this year from sales taxes not collected on Internet purchases and that next year it will grow to $143 million. That doesn’t include sales taxes uncollected on other remote transactions, such as catalog sales. Members of Congress talk a big game about helping small businesses. How about leveling the playing field by ending the sales-tax break on online sales?
KU admissions – What the Kansas Board of Regents wants the University of Kansas to do is come up with an admissions policy that doesn’t necessarily restrict access to the university, but focuses on higher retention and graduation rates and keeps more academically talented Kansas students in the state. While doing this, KU has to figure out how to avoid further enrollment declines and try not to aggravate its reputation as the “snob hill” university in the state. Lurking in the background will be the goal of solidifying KU’s position as a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities, which ousted the University of Nebraska this year and accepted the resignation of Syracuse University after informing the school a committee review likely would show Syracuse no longer met the group’s criteria. But, hey, KU, no pressure.