Debate Over Kansas Education Funding Pits Brownback Against His Allies

Tim Goral's picture

Introducing Republican Gov. Sam Brownback … the moderate?

Brownback — the conservative leader of an increasingly conservative Republican Party in Kansas — is campaigning across the state to drum up support for funding higher education with a sales tax extension.

The latest battle with the Legislature — he has lost precious few — pits him awkwardly against traditionally conservative allies.

They want to end part of the sales tax and cut higher education to pay for tax cuts that left a roughly $700 million hole in the budget for next year.

In some ways, he can’t lose.

If the state’s colleges and universities are spared, Brownback’s efforts would be a key reason why. And the governor would stand to get credit.

“If he loses, he’d say, ‘The Legislature didn’t agree with me, but I fought for higher education,’” said Washburn University political scientist Bob Beatty.

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