By James Jordan
Newton Kansan
Tax cuts and education funding dominated talk among candidates for the Statehouse Tuesday at a forum in Newton. State Rep. Marc Rhoades has been in state office for six years, and promotes conservative ideas such as limited government and fiscal responsibility. His opponent, Glenda Reynolds, a Democrat from Whitewater, said her greatest priority is to help people. She also wants to make sure education funding is not cut. "I have always worked to help people. Voices of most people are not being heard in Topeka. I felt like decisions they are making are not good for everyone," she said. Reynolds said funding has decreased for public educaiton, and that has caused support staff to be cut. Those people are the ones that help kids learn, she said. Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed keeping a sales tax that was enacted during the economic slump, and state officials said most of it would expire next year. He has since said he might like to keep the tax after having helped enact large cuts to state income taxes. Reynolds said everything needs to be looked at and she added that promises need to be kept. "But we also need to be realistic in looking at the economy," she said. She said when income taxes are reduced local property taxes go up, and she would like to see them lowered. Rhoades said "there is nothing in the state that requires local entities to raise property taxes." He said it is up to local people to decide if they want to raise local property taxes to offset cuts in state spending. Rhoades said concerns that the tax cuts advanced by Brownback could result in huge shortfalls in the state may be overblown. "There are other ways to look at that. I think we will be just fine," he said. He added the governor has pledged to not cut state funding for education next year, though there may be some cuts needed in the first year of the tax cuts. "These tax cuts are supposed to help the economy but many sources say it doesn't happen" Reynolds said. "Cutting income when you dont have enough money to pay bills is like buying a lottery ticket and hoping to hit the jackpot. It doesn't make sense," she said.
State Rep. Don Schroeder
State Rep. Don Schroeder is running unopposed for his office. He has been in office six years, and this is the first time he has not had opposition. "Last session was interesting," he said. "The one coming up will be at least that interesting," he said, refering to the tax cuts and changes anticipated at the state capitol. There will be at least 50 new members in the House, and maybe as many as half of the 125 members will be new. "Large turnover is not always a bad thing, with that you get new ideas and new thoughts," he said. He said the governor has promised to not cut state funding. "He has said he would hold the schools harmless, and we hope to hold him to that," Schroeder said. He said he believes the sales tax should expire as promised even if it is needed to balance the budget. "A promise is a promise. We need to keep our word. There is enough of a trust problem as it is," he said.
Congressional candidate Robert Tillman
U.S. Congressional candidate Robert Tillman chided his opponent, Mike Pompeo, for not attending public forums in the district. Tillman spoke at the candidates forum in Newton Tuesday. "He has not attended any but one, and I have attended all of them," Tillman said. Tillman, a retired state supreme court services officer, said he was comfortable talking to a predominantly republican audience, which is often the case in Kansas. "Kansas is a republican state, but we can change that in one election," he said. He said he has been a democrat all his life. "I support President Obama and health care. Some call it Obama-care, and I say yes, Obama does care." He said the current financial crisis was caused by greed. He said it would be hard to work with Republicans. "Their No. 1 priority is to beat Obama, their third or fourth priority is you after special intersts," he added.