BY ALICIA FEYERHERM
PHOTOS BY CAYDEN SANDERS
Kansas House District 111 candidate Ed Hammond held an event at Defiance Brewery on Wednesday.
Hosted by Defiance’s Todd and Trina Powell, Hammond used the event to inform the community about the importance of fully funding K-12 Education and Special Education.
“To most citizens, they don’t have the foggiest idea of the games that are played on K through 12 funding,” Hammond said.
One way Hammond says the legislature gets away with this is by separating the Special Education budget from the K-12 operational budget. The operational budget was funded at the 92 percent required by the Supreme Court, but Special Education was only funded at 71 percent.
Hammond says this lack of funding costs the district $1.6 million annually.
“Right now, that’s equivalent to 22 teachers here in Hays, so the quality of education is being impacted every time you make decisions in Topeka,” Hammond said.
The lack of funding also impacts property taxes.
“When you don’t fund it and you’re forced to transfer, it puts pressure to raise the mill levy,” Hammond said.
$1.6 million is equivalent to five mills in Hays and three and a half mills in Victoria, Hammond says.
While Hammond says that some may be willing to pay those higher taxes to support schools, he says that should not be necessary. According to Hammond, the legislature ended its session with $2 billion in reserves. They also funded a rainy day budget of $960 million and collected $400 million over their predictions within the first two and a half months of the fiscal year.
“Some years that I was working in Topeka, they didn’t have a dime,” Hammond said. “They didn’t have any money. In fact, they were spending money they didn’t have, which I’m always opposed to.”
However, Hammond says that there is no longer an excuse.
“No one’s going to be able to stand up and tell me that we don’t have the money to fully fund K through 12,” Hammond said.
Hammond believes that as a Representative, he could effectively secure funding.
“It’s important that we make a change and that we really get a true advocate for Hays and Ellis County, “ Hammond said.
The election will be on November 8.