Holland says Brownback does not want to share plans

by Dennis Sharkey

Kansas state senator and Democratic candidate for governor Tom Holland says he has a plan for Kansas and wants to share the details. He says his opponent U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback does not.

Holland made a stop in Jefferson County last week to share some of the details of his plans for Kansas if he is elected governor next week.

The Democratic candidate said in two large audience debates with Brownback it became clear to voters and the media that his ideas are better than ideas with no explanation.

“He does not want to debate me at all,” Holland said. “We think we’ve got a message that resonates with most people.”

Holland is also basking in support from endorsements from the Wichita Eagle and the Kansas City Star. Holland said Independent-Vindicator columnist Martin Hawver commented that he “spanked” Brownback in the debates.

Holland said Republicans are also jumping on board his campaign like former Kansas House member Bill Kassebaum and State Sen. Wint Winter. Former Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Frank Meyer has also endorsed Holland.

At the front of next week’s election not only in Kansas but across the country is jobs and the economy. Holland said he believes fixing the economy for the long term requires investment in education and technical programs.

“We believe the best way to create quality jobs in the long term is by investing in our people and our resources,” Holland said. “We’re not going to make any more cuts to schools. We see that as one of the largest economic drivers in the state.

“We know companies come to Kansas in part because number one the quality of our work force and our great public schools,” he added.

Last year due to the bad economic climate and lower funds collected for the state’s coffers, school districts saw their funding cut three times during the school year. In June the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money runs out. Holland said the bipartisan budget for 2012 accounts for that loss of funds. He said the one-cent sales tax passed this year will backfill any monies the state loses from the federal government.

However, Brownback told this reporter in July that the state’s school finance formula is broken and that he would like to see more “local control” when it comes to funding schools.

Holland has called on Brownback to explain what is wrong with the formula and how to fix it. When pressed for details Brownback did not give any during his visit in July. Instead Brownback said he and the legislature need to sit down and look at ways of fixing it.

“The formula is fine,” Holland said. “The state has been unable to fund the formula because of the tough economic environment. Sam has said from the get go that he wants to change the school finance formula. He has never said how. Real leaders don’t hide their agenda. He talks in code.”

Holland said Brownback’s comment about local control translates into increasing the ability for local districts to raise the local option budget which means higher property taxes. Holland pointed to a plan released several weeks ago by Kansas Speaker Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, that would allow for an increased local option budget. But Holland said the plan also calls for elimination of programs that are important. He said in Johnson County raising property taxes by a mill can raise a couple of million dollars. In Jefferson County a mill amounts to less than $10,000 for most districts in the county.

“If you want your kid to be able to keep up, your property taxes are going to go through the roof under Sam Brownback,” Holland said. “When you talk about shutting down rural school districts you’re talking about shutting down rural towns.”

Holland said there is also a great need for technical training programs for kids coming out of high school. Many rural high schools in an effort to save money have cut technical programs such as the automotive program cut by Oskaloosa USD 341 this year. Last year the program had about 50 students.

“Obviously there’s not a need for that, they’re just looking for a way to save dollars,” Holland said about the closing of rural high school programs. “I think you need to invest, not harvest.”

The Democratic candidate also addressed statements by Brownback concerning the repeal of laws on the books. Brownback told this reporter that there are too many restrictive laws on the books. At the time he gave an example of a law in Saline County that banned fireworks. He said just because one person had an accident the whole community had to pay for that mistake.

Holland said Brownback’s claim is a farce. He said in his eight years in the legislature more than 1,700 statutes have been repealed.

“That’s why you have people like Lee Tafanelli and myself in the legislature,” Holland said. “Why do you need a new shadowy layer of government to repeal things. If there’s things Sam doesn’t like he needs to step up and say what they are.”

Holland said his Republican opponent’s 16 years in Washington has left him out of touch with Kansans. Holland said the gridlock and partisan politics that Brownback has helped foster in Washington doesn’t belong in Topeka.

“He is not on the top of his game when talking about Kansas issues. What else has Washington given you and now he wants to come back and run our state. He’s a very partisan politician.”

Holland, who runs a small business, said he will take those values to the governor’s office. Holland, who is the ranking member on the Commerce, Business and Labor and Assessment and Taxation committees, said the business climate in Kansas is on the rise and ranks in the top five nationally as a place to start a business.

Immigration is also starting to become an issue in Kansas. Holland said the federal government has not been doing the job when it comes to protecting the borders, something he and Brownback agree on. However, Holland said we need to crack down on employers who employ illegal aliens and circumvent paying taxes.

“Washington has failed us on immigration completely. They’ve failed to protect our borders and they’ve failed to protect our jobs,” Holland said. “The appropriate focus for Kansas is making sure employers are playing by the rules.”

Holland said Brownback is also behind the times when it comes to a discussion about energy. Holland touted his support for legislation that supports renewable energies. He said Brownback is more interested in taking campaign donations from oil companies in exchange for voting for tax breaks.

“I think Sam Brownback is woefully behind when we start talking about renewable energy,” Holland said. “He’s mister fossil fuels.”

Holland said in order for Kansas to move out of the economic downturn, the state needs someone in the governor’s office who is a cheerleader for the state not for special interest. He said the company that Brownback keeps combined with past statements and philosophies could get Kansas some unwanted attention.

“I think Sam could make us, with his associations and who he’s hanging out with, the butt of late night talk show jokes,” Holland said. “What does that say to company CEOs and executives, researchers and scholars thinking about coming to Kansas. Do we want to go back to the dark ages?”

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Posted by on Oct 31 2010. Filed under County News, Government, State. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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