Education and the economy are tied together as key issues in the Kansas Senate District 8 race.
Republican Jim Denning and Democrat Lisa Johnston both support building up Kansas’ public education system, but have different ideas about how to finance it. The candidates’ plans will be put to the test in the Nov. 6 general election.
Denning is a current member of the Kansas House and is the vice president of Discover Vision Centers.
Denning is strongly in support of cutting government spending. He also supports reducing the corporate income tax rate. He said that developing a tax policy to create and maintain strong businesses and increase job growth is his goal.
Denning is critical of the Senate for its lack of action on the governor’s education finance reform plan. The plan would have given school districts the ability to unlimitedly raise property taxes.
Denning said that Johnson County education dollars are being redistributed in other parts of the state.
“I think the global amount of school funding is adequate, just unfair to Johnson County,” he said.
He would support a plan to keep the money in Johnson County by giving the district an increased percentage of local option budget authority that is “unequalized.”
“Johnson County schools are underfunded by 4 to 9 percent when compared to the state average base-aid per pupil in counties west of Johnson County,” Denning said. “The formula needs to be corrected to shift the funding from the over-funded western counties back to Johnson County.”
Denning also supports spending education money on classroom resources and rewarding, recruiting and retaining the best teachers in the public school system.
Johnston has worked in higher education at the University of Central Missouri, University of Kansas, DeVry University and most recently Baker University “prior to stepping forward to seek public office,” she said. Johnston calls herself as a true public servant. “Words are easy,” she said. “Many call themselves public servants but behave very differently.”
She said Kansas needs leadership and leaders who will stand up for what is best for the citizens.
She views education as “an investment in our young people, our communities, and future of Kansas.”
“Going forward we must ensure proper funding for public schools,” Johnston said. “Not only are they vital for our young people but quality schools are a primary economic driver, attract individuals and businesses to our communities, and keep our property values high.”
Johnston’s campaign advocates economic growth through developing a tax policy that gives money to individuals and families to spend.
“This spending leads to business profits which create new jobs,” Johnston’s campaign website states.
Johnston puts education in her list of three priorities for the state government, along with fiscal responsibility and jobs.
She said Kansas citizens “have the right to expect tax dollars will be properly funding education and ensuring strong public schools.”