BY JADEN MOUNT
As most political races are enduring a primary phase, the campaigns for Kansas House of Representatives District 111 are of the few where candidates are not pressed for the August 7 election. Barbara Wasinger, the current Ellis County Commission for the 2nd District, secured the Republican nomination for the district last month with no competitors. The same can be said for her opponent, incumbent Eber Phelps.
Wasinger is finishing her second term as a county commissioner, a decision she made in reference to her belief on term limits as well as in relation to the number of terms her opponent has held office.
“Well, he’s been there for…since 1997,” she said. “I’ve always been a fan of term limits. I gave myself a term limit as a city commissioner and I was planning on doing so as a county commissioner.”
Kansas Republicans, especially former Governor Sam Brownback, have been criticized heavily for not funding education K-12 and higher education effectively. Candidates for the Republican nomination have since issued stances to further fund education. However, many are wanting some form of accountability for the money being spent.
“There isn’t anyone that is not for good education in Kansas, that’s a given,” said Wasinger. “The legislature continually gives more money to education, but we have never gotten any kind of an accounting of what the funds are being used for. So, all the studies that have been done…for example, we don’t spend enough per student. The District of Columbia spends $17,000 a student and we are down in the $13,000. Yet, they have…maybe a 51%, and I’m not sure, [K-12] graduation rate. It’s a horrible graduation rate, but they spend more money per pupil. And Iowa spends the same as we do and their graduation rate is 91%. So, what is the difference? Where are we looking for some accountability as to where it’s going and how you are getting…what kind of results you’re getting? Because there’s no correlation that’s been found between…just throwing money at education.”
The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the last allocation of money the legislature plans to spend on education does not meet requirements under the state constitution. Current Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, is the only Republican Primary Candidate for Governor to openly oppose the ruling.
“I have a hard time with the judiciary telling the legislature what they need to spend,” Wasinger said. “So, I get back to the accountability and where is this money being spent? How is it being spent? How are you gauging the efficacy of the money that you’re spending? And I think that’s reasonable for just about anything.”
Wasinger will move on to represent the Republican Party at the November General Election against Democrat Eber Phelps. Registered voters will have to wait until then to cast their vote for either candidate. For more information on voting in your area, please contact your local Kansas Department of the Treasurer Office.