With the polls showing incumbent Republican Governor Sam Brownback trailing in a very red state, the Governor went on the offensive during the second debate of the fall campaign.
The forum featured Brownback, Democrat Paul Davis and Libertarian candidate Keen Umbeher.
Brownback warned the Johnson County audience Democrat Davis might hurt their schools.
Education is a big topic in Johnson County at all times. Brownback is in political trouble with some local Johnson County Republicans for their view he’s cut the schools too much.
He warned the audience today Davis could be worse.
“What he’s talking about when he’s talking about money for schools is your money, but not your schools,” Brownback charged.
Davis responded, saying because of the deep Brownback tax cuts and the possibility of a billion budget shortfall in the coming years, Brownback will have to make school cuts.
“The best example of future behavior is past behavior. And what he’s going to do is cut school more,” Davis said.
Davis accuses Brownback of making the largest cuts ever in the state school budget because the basic per pupil spending in the state has dropped.
Brownback says his administration has put a record of amount of money in the school budget. Some of those funds are to replenish the teacher pension fund.
Davis says that money does not get into the classroom.
Libertarian Keen Umbehr says the state should not be shifting school money from wealthier districts to poorer ones just because they don’t value education.
While Brownback was on the offense during much of the debate, both Davis and Umbehr attacked his tax plans.
“I feel like this is kind of 2 against 1”, he said at one point.
The conservative republican defended his tax cuts as a way to bring more jobs to the state, especially for small business.
As he made the claim, the Kansas Department of Labor was announcing the state created 900 seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs throughout the state during August.
The Kansas unemployment rate remains at 4.9% for the second straight month.t. Davis said the Brownback tax cut plan was a “one size fits all” plan. He said what works in affluent suburban Johnson County may not work in rural Kansas and small towns like Garden City.
Another unusual aspect of the debate was the amount of news coverage it attracted. National news organizations sent reporters and crews into to cover the event.
Normally the re-election of a Republican in Kansas is purely a state story.
Bownbacxk, however, is trailing in the polls and the political climate of the state is more interesting than normal this fall.
Even three term US Senator Pat Roberts, once considered a shoo-in, in trailing in some polls and is a close race with an independent candidiate.