Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

February 3, 2006

Profile: Rep. John Burnett

Rep. John Burnett

Rep. John Burnett (D-Kansas City), who received a bachelor’s degree and a juris doctor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, recalls the University Center and time he spent on campus as his fondest memories as a student at UMKC. Today, Burnett is in his second term as a state representative and believes much of the state’s focus should be on higher education. “The top priority of the state is education,” Burnett said. “The number one priority in the Capitol is public education, and I don’t think that means just K-12.”

Rep. John Burnett (D-Kansas City), who received a bachelor’s degree and a juris doctor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, recalls the University Center and time he spent on campus as his fondest memories as a student at UMKC.  Today, Burnett is in his second term as a state representative and believes much of the state’s focus should be on higher education. “The top priority of the state is education,” Burnett said. “The number one priority in the Capitol is public education, and I don’t think that means just K-12.”

Burnett was first elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2002 and re-elected in 2004 to represent District 40, which encompasses a portion of Kansas City that includes the River Market area.

Currently, Burnett serves as ranking member on the Judiciary Committee and also serves on the Rules and Workforce Development and Workplace Safety committees.

Prior to his service in the house, Burnett served in the U.S. Army from 1966-1968 during the Vietnam War and the Tet Offensive. He is a lawyer by trade and also previously served two terms on the Jackson County Legislature. In his spare time, Burnett is a participating member of the Kansas City Bicycle Club and Runner’s Edge of Kansas City.

Burnett’s constituency is comprised of residents with a wide range of income levels, but many might not have the opportunity to attend college if it weren’t for financial aid and scholarships, he said.

“I can honestly say that I believe UMKC does a good job of supporting the average student,” Burnett said. “Attending UMKC is not perceived as being an unattainable goal.”

However, tuition levels at the University still are a concern and magnify the challenges facing higher education today.

“The greatest challenges facing higher education are a tight budget and a shrinking pie,” Burnett said. “Competing for state dollars is always a challenge.”

Burnett added that the University of Missouri’s focus on rising tuition levels is an example of the leadership role it plays in higher education.

“I think the University of Missouri is a leader in the higher education community and I think they set the high water mark in the state,” Burnett said.

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