Democratic Party apologizes for errors in ads attacking Reps. Scapa and Goodman

Rep. Joseph Scapa, R-Wichita

TOPEKA – The state Democratic Party is apologizing for an inaccurate attack ad against Rep. Joseph Scapa, R-Wichita, and Rep. Jana Goodman, R-Leavenworth, that says they “voted for the largest cut to education in Kansas history.”

The education cut was included in the 2011 state budget, and Scapa and Goodman voted against it.

Republicans immediately accused Democrats of lying about their votes. Democratic Party Chair Joan Wagnon said she called Scapa and Goodman once she realized the error.

Education funding has been one of the most contentious issues in campaigns across the state.

Democrats have accused Gov. Sam Brownback and his supporters of the “largest” cut to education in state history. Meanwhile, Brownback has noted that overall education funding increased by $40 million under the state’s most recent approved budget.

While overall education funding increased, Democrats hone in on per pupil base state aid. During Brownback’s time in office, that per pupil aid was cut by $232. But Republicans have noted that Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson approved a series of cuts that resulted in larger reduction.

Democrats say that Parkinson’s cuts came amid a recession and big shortfalls, and they criticize Brownback for not increasing base aid more now that the economy has improved. This year, Brownback approved a $58 increase to base aid, but Democrats say it should have been more.

They also contend that Brownback’s effort to limit education spending is preparation for cuts to government services that may be forced by the massive income tax-cutting bill he signed into law this year.

Brownback has said he will protect education funding, and he has set up a task force that aims to make the state’s education system more efficient.