Kansas government is in full meltdown mode. Wednesday was an absolute awful day for anyone hoping for strong leadership on key issues in Topeka.
To recap the most important events:
▪ Total tax revenues came in more than $70 million under estimates for May.
I’ve looked at the numbers closely and the most crucial villain is the income tax cut that Gov. Sam Brownback pushed through in 2012. The state is now taking in a breathtaking $650 million a year less than it did just three years ago, before the income tax cuts took full effect.
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▪ The Senate and the House met but did not even attempt to do anything serious about the highest priority item on the minds of many Kansans: Will the Legislature approve a constitutionally valid plan to fund K-12 schools?
If they don’t do that, the schools will have to close on June 30, according to a recent ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court.
▪ The Republican-dominated Senate passed a meaningless resolution aimed at discriminating against transgender students.
It basically tells the students, who already often are targets of bigotry by their peers in schools, that they shouldn’t be allowed to use the bathroom according to their current gender. They are supposed to follow their birth gender.
What a bunch of bigotry by the senators.
Here’s some of what needs to happen in the near future.
On the budget, Brownback likely will have to cut even more money from the current year’s budget — which ends June 30 — just to balance it.
That could mean more slicing into university funding and additional diversion of highway funds.
None of this is good for the future of Kansas.
The tax cuts have so depleted the Sunflower State’s revenues that bad decisions are the only things left for Brownback to do right now.
Ultimately, the tax cuts must be repealed to restore a semblance of order to the budget so it can deliver better public services to 3 million Kansans.
Regarding the school funding issue, Brownback soon needs to call a special session so the Legislature can get together and decide how to abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Let’s forget all the nonsense from Senate President Susan Wagle, House Speaker Ray Merrick and Brownback himself that the Legislature might ignore what the court said.
Kansas legislators need to follow the rule of law, not create a constitutional crisis.
That means coming back to Topeka sometime in June, passing a bill that sends more money into K-12 schools and obeying the courts.