The time for bellyaching is over in Kansas. Now it’s time for the Legislature to solve the latest school funding crisis.
Most Kansans expect lawmakers to find a way to follow a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that called on them to constitutionally support K-12 education, or risk forcing a school closure by July 1.
People don’t need to see Republican Sen. Greg Smith of Overland Park whip out meaningless figures to show that Johnson County schools could reap millions of extra dollars if the state followed the 1859 Wyandotte Constitution. Gosh, if only we could go back to a time when women weren’t allowed to vote.
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Sen. Jeff Melcher, a Leawood Republican, can stop whining about the rule of law and how the court wants to “continue dropping little turds” on the Legislature. Here’s a thought: Be proactive in fixing what’s broken.
We’ve heard time and time again from Gov. Sam Brownback, House Speaker Ray Merrick of Stilwell and many other conservative Republicans that the amount needed to appease the court is around $38 million. The GOP leaders claim that the court is holding children “hostage” over a puny amount in the context of a $4 billion state appropriation for schools.
But as frustrated educators have pointed out, if the $38 million is “nothing,” then simply hand over that much to the schools and end the special session.
Unfortunately, the income tax cuts Brownback and the Legislature approved in 2012 have left the state broke. Freeing up that money will require more destructive budget machinations.
Kansas needs to keep its schools open, and that might require a bill that would strip a few million dollars from schools in Johnson County. We are on record supporting that approach if it provides a constitutional path toward funding other schools across the state.
The clock is ticking.