An ill wind is blowing in Kansas, threatening to make a mockery of the rule of law while plunging the state’s public schools into disarray.
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Some extremist GOP members angrily claim they don’t have to obey a ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court. That shocking contention — if carried to term — would undermine the very fabric of the U.S. Constitution and separation of powers.
Negligent lawmakers are lobbing insults at justices who have found that K-12 schools in Johnson County, Kansas City, Kan., and throughout the Sunflower State are not constitutionally funded and, according to the court, can’t legally stay open after June 30.
House Speaker Ray Merrick of Stilwell and others are — wrongly — trotting out the line that the spat is over a puny 1 percent of education funding. In reality, the court struck down a method used to collect 25 percent of school revenues. That’s $1 billion.
Over in the Senate, members earlier this week even wasted valuable time fixated on a completely meaningless and bigoted “bathroom” measure.
What a sham that was, especially on the same day Kansans found out the state’s revenues were in another free-fall because of the financially disastrous 2012 income tax cuts approved by Brownback and the Legislature.
In a normally functioning state, the grownups in charge of the legislative branches of government would react reasonably.
That’s where Brownback — too often a delusional and pandering governor — comes in.
On Wednesday, he issued this statement: “I will work with the attorney general and legislative leadership to respond aggressively and appropriately to any action taken by the Kansas Supreme Court to close our schools. Kansas has great schools and they should remain open. The court should not be playing politics with our children’s education.”
As anyone who’s been paying attention to this long, sad saga knows, the only ones “playing politics” with education are Brownback and legislators who refuse to adequately finance public schools in Kansas.
The court has done its job in pointing out that fact. The Legislature needs to react appropriately, not childlishly.
We will say it again, joined by a large majority of like-minded Kansans: The governor needs to quickly call a special session to make sure the schools are constitutionally funded.
Brownback and some Republican elected officials are doing everything they can to label the Supreme Court as the bully here. The official GOP line — that voters should not retain four justices in the November elections — must be ignored.
Indeed, voters in the Aug. 2 primaries are getting a much better indication of who the true villains are in the school funding imbroglio.
Voters in Johnson County and elsewhere will have the opportunities in two months to oust some of the most reckless Republicans in the Legislature and replace them with more moderate, more thoughtful GOP voices, especially on budget matters.
Brownback and ultra-conservative lawmakers can throw all the hissy fits they want to get public attention. But a growing number of Kansans know who’s responsible for this almost unprecedented mess.
Public schools in the Sunflower State must remain open. Elected officials now have the duty to find the best way to make sure that quickly happens.