Distaste for tax increases faded quickly on Wichita school board

In a candidate questionnaire from the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce before the recent USD 259, the Wichita public school district board member election, Kevass Harding answered “No” when asked if he would support a tax increase for Wichita schools. The other successful candidates — Betty Arnold, Jeff Davis, and Barb Fuller — were more artful in their responses, promising “financial responsibility” and the usual empty pledges to spend wisely and efficiently. Ms. Fuller did say “I would not want to raise these taxes,” referring to local property taxes.

The election took place in April 2007. In August 2007, just four months later, all Wichita school board members, including those mentioned above, voted to increase taxes. It didn’t take long for Kevass Harding to reverse his position. It didn’t take long for Barb Fuller to overcome her dislike for raising taxes. Power has a way of doing these things.

In February 2008, all members except Jeff Davis approved the idea of a $350 million bond issue, asking voters to decide the issue. There is no doubt, however, what position the board members take on the necessity of the bond issue and its tax increase. And before you get the impression that Mr. Davis was overtaken by a sudden wave of wisdom regarding tax increases, he voted no only because he felt his district wasn’t slated to get enough. He later changed his vote.

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