Last Thursday’s State of the State address was filled with changes and challenges for the upcoming year, finding solutions for Kansans and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback bragging about himself.
One vital topic omitted from the list: funding for higher education.
Although higher education was left off the speech itinerary during Brownback’s address, it was thrown into the discussion (indirectly and with no mention) about the budgetary plans.
Kansans were informed that government exists to serve the people with compassion so, as Brownback puts it, “folks can live in freedom and dignity.”
The unsuitability of the government was also a subject of importance, where the reform of the government has transpired through eliminating, consolidating and privatizing state agencies.
“Though he hit high talking on about K-12 education, Brownback did not attempt to bring higher education into conversation.”
In addition to the buffer information citizens were fed, Brownback took plenty of time to brag about the state of Kansas. He used a portion of his speech to boost his self-esteem via applause. The audience was astounded by the jobs created, the unemployment rate being lowered, personal income rising and welfare roles being slashed in half during the last several years. Kansans must remember none of these things were a one-man job.
Brownback did take a moment to recognize what higher education is doing in Kansas, including advances in animal health, aeronautics and the universal fight against cancer.
After a fleeting moment of discussing higher education, Brownback chose to discuss welfare and jobs. He even recognized a woman who had risen above with courage, perseverance and who eventually moved forward out of welfare.
That in itself is a wonderful accomplishment. It is no easy task moving out of welfare and into a stable job; however, it is not something that needed to consume minutes of what should have been an informative speech.
“If we could spend our way to paradise, we would already be there,” Brownback said, somewhere between budget deficits and his K-12 budget plan. It was such a lovely interpretation of every man’s wish but not necessarily pertinent to his topic.
“The era of expanding government is over because it has to be,” Brownback said in reference to the budget taking 40 governors to hit the $1 billion mark for general fund expenditures and the following six to see it hit the $6 billion mark.
Though he hit high talking on about K-12 education, Brownback did not attempt to bring higher education into conversation.
That being said, looking at the budget and other entities, we see that there will be few changes in the budget for the state’s colleges and universities. Although government spending for universities is continuing to get cut, there is a reported increase of $14 million between this year and the next.
“Throughout the speech, Brownback made it clear that the people rule. By doing so, he is basically conditioning the population to make us think his ideas are our own.”
Since Brownback has been in office, K-State undergraduates have seen a significant change in the cost of their tuition. In only four years, in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students combined have increased by $1,658.
Brownback lists major state expenditures to be K-12 education, public pension and Medicaid.
During his speech, he reasoned a new school finance formula needs to be created, giving more control of spending directly to school districts. School districts will reportedly receive around $107 million less a year compared to the 2014 fiscal year. No comments were made about Medicaid other than listing it as a major state expenditure.
Throughout the speech, Brownback made it clear that the people rule. By doing so, he is basically conditioning the population to make us think his ideas are our own.
To keep straight with his extreme Republican values, Brownback throws an anti-abortion anecdote during the last three minutes of his speech.
“Kansas is the most pro-life state in America, and we are not going back,” he said.
Most people overlook the State of the State address, but it is something that should be taken into account by voters and non-voters alike. At least one item that is discussed can relate to a citizen. For students, that would be funding for higher education. Students should be curious as to why tuition continues to rise, and what the university is doing to help keep everything in balance with different budget cuts.
Jena Ernsting is a freshman in agricultural communications and journalism.