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To the editor:

For the second time in less than a month, the Great Bend Tribune Opinion page featured a criticism of public education by Dave Trabert. On Aug. 10, the target was a district in Johnson County. On Sept. 7, it was a district in Sedgwick County. 

Once again, Trabert was listed as a columnist for The Sentinel. The Sentinel is not a newspaper. The Sentinel is a website that focuses on criticism of our government and independent newspapers. It does not focus any criticism on political lobbyists or dark money funded political propaganda platforms. Dave Trabert is a political lobbyist and CEO of the Kansas Policy Institute, a dark money funded political propaganda platform. The KPI owns The Sentinel. 

Public education is the largest expense in the state general fund. For special interest political lobbying groups like the KPI who want to pay less tax, limiting public education funds is the largest opportunity to achieve their goal.

But we support our schools and want them to succeed. Not because we agree with everything they do, but because they are our schools. Particularly in our smaller communities, they are staffed and operated by our fellow community members that we know and elect to run them. This willingness to support and pay for our local schools diminishes the political power of special interests who want to keep more of their tax dollars for their own use. 

If Trabert was truly more dedicated to education and more knowledgeable than the public educators he criticizes, he would have spent the last 14 years as a teacher, administrator and school board member educating kids better. But he is not, so he cannot, so he did not. Instead, he has worked for tax cuts for the wealthy as head of one of the most prolific deceive-by-omission dark money funded political propaganda organizations in the state. 

Lobbyists like Trabert and propaganda platforms like the KPI gain political power for themselves if they can diminish or erase our loyalty to our local schools. In the largest sense, the KPI is not a “think tank.” It is a false front that uses the false front of The Sentinel that uses the false front of depicting Trabert as a columnist for the moneyed individuals that fund the KPI to empower themselves and achieve their goal of paying less tax. 

The first rule of journalism is to follow the money. As it turns out, the KPI is a major supporter of the proposed flat tax. Analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy predicted the top 1% of Kansas wage earners would see an average tax cut of $11,510, while the bottom 20% would receive a $192 cut.

As reminder, the Brownback 2012 income tax cut fiscal train wreck resulted in increased sales taxes, imposed $1.0 billion of bond debt on our children to fund KPERS obligations, issued $400 million of highway bond debt to supplement over $1.6 billion of highway funds diverted to the state general fund, cancelled highway projects, delayed scheduled KPERS contributions, cut public services in general and increased tax supported debt by 40 percent since 2010 to nearly $4.5 billion. All of this was done to pay for the income tax cuts, the major benefit of which went to those of us with the most money. 

And who joined Brownback in his office on May 22, 2012, when the governor signed the income tax cut law which provided so much benefit for wealthy Kansans and so much cost for everyone else? Dave Trabert of the KPI.

John Sturn