Gov. Brownback speaks on re-election bid

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback speaks to the Washburn Review about his re-election bid. Brownback is currently in a tight race against Dem. Paul Davis.

One of the nation’s most heated political battles will be decided in November with the Kansas gubenatorial race that pits incumbent Sam Brownback against his democratic opponent Paul Davis.

Since passing his controversial tax reform plan last year, Brownback has seen his approval ratings drop and, recent data released by Public Polling Policy, Brownback trailing his opponent by two points. Fighting an uphill battle, the governor will spend the next several weeks trying to convince Kansas voters that another four years of his administration is what’s best for the state.

Pushing aside a pile of paperwork, Brownback comments on what another term as governor will mean for Washburn students who will be entering the job market during that time.

“My hope is that they’ll see a lot of job opportunities,” said Brownback. “And a lot of places that they would see and think, ‘This is a good place to invest my life. There are a lot of places I can go, but this is a good place for me to invest my life.’”

One of the ways Brownback hopes to create said job opportunities is through what he refers to as a targeted education plan that focuses resources on specified areas of training and education. Washburn can be counted as one of those targets.

“The KBI and forensics facility at Washburn is a targeted investment,” said Brownback. “The KBI needs it for educational opportunities in a growing field. I want to see us do more things like that.”

The governor also counts a $50 million increase in higher education funding and heavy investment in technical training for high school students as highlights of his education reforms.

“What our hope is that people will get industry certification and be able to work at a higher wage while going through college, so they won’t have to borrow as much money for school.”

One of Brownback’s biggest challenges will be to sell a tax reform plan that has drawn widespread criticism from officials on both sides of the political fence.

 “Tax policy takes time to work,” said Brownback. “We were a high-tax state in the middle of the country. People don’t like to pay taxes and if they have an option to go somewhere else, they will. So what I’m trying to do is get us in a position where we’re a low income tax state that attracts people, and that’s happening.”

Acknowledging the massive hits in revenue the state has experienced since his reforms took effect, Brownback states that his administration projected a two year  dip in revenues before any growth would occur. Statewide budget cuts and reserve funds have been filling the monetary gap created by the sudden loss of tax dollars.

“We went in with a pretty big reserve,” said Brownback. “And we’ve cut our expenses back; we’re down 3,000 employees at the state, but we’re up in K-12 teachers. That was purposeful. We’ve been investing in education by cutting corners where we could.”

While Kansans will have the opportunity to express their thoughts on the current administration’s reforms by voting in November, many politicians have already voiced their opinions. In a highly publicized move, more than 100 current and former Republican office holders have pubically endorsed Davis. Brownback seems unfazed by the cross-partisan stance.

“We’re focused on the job that I’m doing and telling people about it. The media covers the battle, but they don’t cover, ‘How is this doing?’ So we’ve got to tell people, ‘this is what’s happened’ and get that word out.”

The days leading up to the November 4 election will undoubtedly see mud being slung from both sides of the race, but Brownback’s message to young voters stays the same.

“We’re creating an atmosphere in Kansas that will create jobs and opportunities for young people. I hope they stay in the state. I hope they find a good livelihood and will progress and grow.”