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Kansas GOP Plays Political Games with Education Funds

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Republican senators in Kansas just passed a bill to cut dedicated funding for public schools by more than half a billion dollars – and attempted to paper over their recklessness by using federal relief funds that were supposed to go towards COVID-19 related expenses.

Not only is this bait and switch potentially illegal, it’s also terrible policy that shortchanges public schools and Kansas families who desperately need COVID-19 relief. The bill would limit the funding available to schools to cover the extraordinary costs they’ve faced this year and could erase funding gains made under Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration. It’s clear Kansas Republicans, from state legislators to GOP gubernatorial candidates Derek Schmidt and Jeff Colyer, want to return to the Brownback way: the less education funding the better. 

Gov. Laura Kelly vowed to make sure schools have the money they need and COVID-19 funds are allocated properly: “The last thing Kansas needs – just as our teachers are vaccinated, and our kids are returning to in-person learning – is to sabotage our education system by subverting critical COVID recovery funds.”

Republican governors across the country are maneuvering to cut state budgets and funds for public education – even though gutting public education is clearly a losing issue. Just yesterday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in New Hampshire moved to reverse Gov. Chris Sununu’s proposed cuts to public education, which would have potentially resulted in dozens of teacher layoffs and cost the state more money than it actually saved.

Democrats governors like Gov. Kelly, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a former educator, ran and won on improving public education and restoring Republicans’ drastic cuts to education.

“The Kansas GOP’s partisan games won’t win them any favor with voters. Cutting funds for public schools is both bad for kids and an electoral killer for Republicans,” said DGA Senior Communications Advisor Christina Amestoy. “Democratic governors’ wins in states like Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Wisconsin have shown voters want their dollars going towards investments in public education. The last thing the country needs as it tries to put students back in classrooms are more Republicans trying to cut millions more from already-struggling schools.”