State representatives discuss schools and taxes in Basehor
State Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, and Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, met Basehor residents Saturday morning at the VFW and fielded questions from concerned residents about two key issues — education and state taxes.
Although the event, sponsored by the Basehor Community Library and VFW Post 11499, was not billed as a debate, the 50 people at the meeting did get to hear the legislators’ differing opinions on the subjects. Several asked questions about the state’s efforts to use the Common Core State Standards Initiative and Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to rid the state of income taxes.
The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in all but a handful of states, were a project by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to develop curriculum standards that would prepare students for college and the workforce. Kansas formally adopted the standards in 2010, dubbing them the “Kansas College and Career-Ready Standards.” School districts throughout the state have spent much of the past two years getting teachers ready to implement them.
Dove told the audience that he wasn’t completely sold on the Common Core and is apprehensive about its control over the state’s public schools. He said he had received letters from some superintendents calling Common Core a “federal plot to get student information.”
“Common Core is asking for a lot of information not just on individual students, but the schools,” Dove said. “We just don’t have a big enough budget to sustain Common Core testing for years to come.”
Holland stood in favor of Common Core on Saturday, saying that it is just a set of standards for the betterment of the country’s schools.
“It’s nothing but a set of standards,” Holland said. “We’re not talking about curriculum, were just talking about standards.”
One attendee in the crowd voiced her concern about the federal government interfering too much in each state’s public school system.
Basehor residents will get a chance to learn more about Common Core on Oct. 30 when Basehor-Linwood School Superintendent David Howard speaks about the program at the library.
The legislators also fielded questions about Brownback’s tax plan, with which Holland strongly disagrees.
Holland, who has represented the 3rd district since 2009, said Brownback’s cuts in income tax rates will reduce state revenue significantly over the years. He explained to some audience members in favor of the tax plan that, despite the governor’s reasoning that the tax cut would create jobs in Kansas, the state simply doesn’t have the advantages that other states with such a tax plan have. He said Kansas cannot compare itself to Texas simply because of the abundance of energy jobs in Texas and other resources Texas has.
“Kansas will never have a scintilla of that in energy,” Holland said. “They have some unique things that make them stand out.”
An audience member said that the plan has created 22,000 jobs in Kansas over the last year, a number Holland did not debate.
Dove supported the plan to reduce income tax rates, saying it would help improve the economy. He said the state may suffer through the transition at first, but ultimately will benefit from the plan.
The appearance of both representatives comes three months before the January 2014 legislative session in Topeka. Both representatives agreed that the biggest thing the legislature will be focused on in January is education funding.