The beginning of the school year is always a celebration. This year we officially dedicated our new Southeast High School. Nearly 17 years in the making, this beautiful school is the result of hard working school board members and the citizens of Wichita joining together to invest in buildings that will open doors for our students. We agreed to invest a little money each month for a short time to build and renovate schools in Wichita when we passed both bond issues. These are schools that provide the resources students need to compete in today’s world. As the project is nearly complete, it is gratifying to know they will serve students well for decades to come in an efficient and economical way.
I am proud of this accomplishment. Proud of our staff. Proud of our students. Proud of our city. We stood together when the anti-public education forces were criticizing the scope of the project and built with an eye to the future.
But, while Wichita is investing in education, our Governor is forging a different path. His unpredictable funding for higher education puts the future of our graduates at risk.
Funding for higher education under Gov. Brownback’s watch has been in constant upheaval. The latest cuts have disastrous observable effects. They limit student access to university resources. Departments are continually understaffed. Tuition costs are increasing at an unreasonable rate. The paychecks of Professors and staff are not keeping up with inflationary costs. And there are more cuts to come.
Our public universities and colleges are paying the price for Kansas’ fool-hearty LLC income tax exemption and the resulting cuts to the programs and services that significantly impact our future. Even the largest tax increase in Kansas history wasn’t enough to offset the damage.
Our hope? A moderate majority in the legislature that can over-ride the Governor’s veto. We can do it in November. For the students that graduate from our schools. This election is truly about our future.