TOPEKA — Before legislators look at another tax increase to boost school funding and repay depleted funds, one Democratic gubernatorial candidate said the state should work to diversify its main industries and bring in more money through exporting.
Former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, a Democrat, stopped in Topeka. He’s been touring the state during his campaign for governor.
He said the state missed out on a significant chunk of tax revenue while Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature income tax policy was in place, but he said other options could be on the table to repay highway funds and increase funding to K-12 schools.
“We have to figure out how we’re going to put those dollars back in there,” Brewer said.
The Legislature overrode Brownback’s veto earlier this year and rolled back his tax cuts. The increase is expected to bring in another $1.2 billion over the next two years.
Brewer said he thought Kansas should diversify the types of products it produces and work to export more. Kansas primarily exports airplane machinery and farm goods, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“We need to work aggressively at exporting the goods that we have here,” Brewer said.
Brewer said the state should also look at how it’s allocating those dollars, including any spent through a new school finance program.
The Supreme Court last month ruled the state’s new school finance funding increase unconstitutional. Brewer said he would like to see a detailed list of what kind of funding is needed for schools and how it would be spent. He said he thought education was important in maintaining a strong workforce.
“We have to make sure that there’s a skilled workforce and a trained workforce and an educated workforce,” Brewer said.
Brewer faces House Minority Leader Jim Ward, former Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty and Olathe physician Arden Andersen in the Democratic primary. The Republican field is also crowded with Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, former Rep. Mark Hutton, former Sen. Jim Barnett and former Rep. Ed O’Malley.