Sam Brownback is the Latest Governor to Neglect Students. Here's How

February 6th 2015

ATTN: Staff

Another state with a conservative governor is looking to balance the budget by cutting public education.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) says he will cut nearly $45 million in public school and higher education funding next month -- unless the state legislature withholds $54 million in public school funding that is required by law to help poor school districts next year. The changes will amount to a 2 percent cut in state university budgets and 1.5 percent cut in K-12 education.

The state needs to take quick measures before next week to ensure it can continue to pay its bills after it saw less-than-projected tax revenues through January.

Brownback and his state is facing a $344 million deficit on June 30. There will be a $600 million deficit next year. Kansas has a budget crisis after leadership in the state drastically cut personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013, slashing state revenue.

It's not just Kansas.

Kansas is following the lead of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who last week proposed $300 million in cuts to the University of Wisconsin System. Wisconsin's revenues have been set back by both the recent recession and by a deep tax cut that has not produced the economic growth its proponents expected, leaving Walker no choice but to make drastic cuts to state services in an attempt to balance the budget in advance of his widely anticipated run for president. If Walker’s plan is approved by the legislature, it will likely lead to layoffs, reductions in course offerings, and possibly an increase in tuition when a state-mandated tuition freeze expires in 2017.

The situation was particularly acute in California, which suffered from crippling budget shortfalls during most of the last decade, as well as higher-than-average costs. And where there are chronic shortfalls, increases in tuition to make up the gap are usually not far behind: according to data compiled by KQED, the average student at the University of California today will pay three times as much in tuition as the average student did in 1992, despite a tuition freeze that has been in effect for the past three years, and will leave school with an average debt load of $20,500.

For more on the crisis of public funding of higher education, check out our explainer.