Brownback: Working to fix KPERS, tax problems

By Lauren Rust

Gov. Brownback (left) and HCC President Carter File talk in the Stringer Fine Arts Center.
Gov. Brownback (left) and HCC President Carter File talk in the Stringer Fine Arts Center.

Gov. Sam Brownback came to the HCC campus Sept. 17, during Governor’s Day at the Kansas State Fair.

Before he spoke, the HCC jazz band played, and then at 11:15 a.m. Dr. Carter File, president of Hutchinson Community College, introduced him.

File described the governor as a “supporter of community colleges” and talked about Senate Bill 155, passed into law in July 2012.

The bill created funding for technical education courses for high school and college students, to increase our skilled workforce.

After the introduction, Brownback stepped in front of a large projection screen.

He began with introducing himself and talking about the state fair.

“It’s like homecoming week,” he said. He said he has been going to the fair since the age of 13 and it was always a great time.

Brownback speaks in the Stringer performance hall. The governor used a series of 15 projected slides to illustrate his talk about Kansas taxes, revenues and the KPERS retirement system.
Brownback speaks in the Stringer performance hall. The governor used a series of 15 projected slides to illustrate his talk about Kansas taxes, revenues and the KPERS retirement system.

He then began showing his 15-slide presentation. The first section of slides concerned Kansas’ population. We once had six congressional districts, he said, and now we probably will be going down to three. “We aren’t growing fast enough,” he said.

The governor said we have two industries that are really struggling right now: oil and agriculture.

He said we are 10th in oil production and that we are the “fastest growing dairy state,” with most of this coming from giant operations in southwest Kansas.

The slides then shifted from population to the budget, a topic that many students and faculty were interested in hearing about.

Brownback began to speak of other states and how they dealt with their budget. “States that grow have no income tax and have slower government spending.”

The governor addressed education costs.

“Half of the state budget,” he said, “is spent on K-12 education.” He discussed education a little more, but the main topic of his presentation was the retirement system, KPERS.

The governor seemed concerned about this issue and wants everyone else to be as well. “This is by far the biggest fiscal problem that we face,” he said. “This is what will bankrupt you; your pension system.”

The governor then finished off with Kansas job growth and unemployment. He concentrated on small businesses.

“Two-thirds of Kansans are employed by small businesses,” he said. Job growth is expected in the area of small business.

When the governor was done, everyone clapped and File presented Brownback with an HCC cup, t-shirt, and bag for him to take to the fair.

Many HCC students reacted to the governor’s speech.

“I did like the slides about agricultural growth,” said Ethan Hood, Winfield, “but it was extremely bland.”

Hood said the speech could have been suited for the college by making it more exciting and upbeat.

Other students really enjoyed the presentation.

“I was overall impressed with the presentation and look to continue to follow Gov. Brownback and how he helps Kansas,” said Brooks Armstrong, Hutchinson.

Armstrong said he wished that the governor would have argued where others had “pegged him” on the topic of education.

There were students, however, that were not very impresse.

“There was little proven correlation between his slides and his overall speech,” said Shannon Galliher, Hutchinson. “Nothing was said about the plans he has for his upcoming term.”

While some students and faculty disagree with the governor, his policies are here to stay for the time being and hopefully make Kansas a better place to live, grow, and learn.

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