Funding Johnson County’s public schools is a top priority of two Republicans running for the 17th District seat in the Kansas House. But the two have opposite views on that and several other issues in the Aug. 7 primary.
Jason Leib of Lenexa is challenging Brett Hildabrand of Merriam, who is ending his first term in another district. The winner may face Larry Meeker of Lake Quivira in November. Meeker, a Democrat, is trying to be listed as an Independent in the general election because his original paperwork was lost by the secretary of state’s office, he has said.
Hildabrand was mapped out of his former seat in the 23rd District by the new redistricting plan, but he has since moved into an apartment in Merriam that is within the district, he said.
Hildabrand and Leib, responding to a Star questionnaire, both said they would support an increase in the amount of money local school districts can raise for their own students (provided voters approve). But they differed on about everything else education related, including the question of whether the state adequately funds public schools.
On his website, Hildabrand calls the funding formula unfair because out of every $5 of education money raised in Johnson County, about $4 goes to schools outside the county. But he said the amount it raises — which comes to over half of the state budget — is adequate. Hildabrand said he’d rather the schools change the way the money is spent. “I believe the amount of money being spent on education is correct, but I do not believe it is being applied correctly,” he wrote on a Star questionnaire. “More money is being directed towards administrative costs instead of classroom use and teacher salaries.”
Leib wrote on the questionnaire that funding for schools is inadequate and unsustainable and that the state is not meeting its constitutional obligation to provide education. “In areas such as Johnson County, where public schools are providing exceptional education, we should continue to invest in those resources while investigating options in areas where students are not successful,” he wrote.
The two also differed sharply on taxation and immigration issues. Leib would not support a phase-out of the Kansas income tax, saying a more balanced approach to revenue is needed. Hildabrand said he would support a phase-out.
On immigration, Hildabrand would support a law allowing police to check for citizenship status for suspected undocumented residents and would repeal a measure allowing in-state tuition at state colleges for undocumented Kansas high school graduates. And he said he would like to see employers use a verification of legal citizenship via the federal database E-Verify when they hire.
Leib was against allowing police to check for citizenship status, saying he prefers a comprehensive national immigration policy without unfunded mandates to local law enforcement. He did not check yes or no on the tuition question, saying only, “Children should not be punished for the actions of their parents and skilled educated immigrants should be allowed to participate in our workforce.”