Where would Kansas be without the “leadership” of House Speaker Ray Merrick?
A lot better off, more than likely.
More proof of that fact recently arrived as Merrick — a Johnson County Republican best known for his ignorant “government employees produce nothing” comment in 2014 — offered clueless statements on two important issues.
▪ On May 10, the Kansas Supreme Court is scheduled to review the Legislature’s latest proposal to fund K-12 schools for the coming year. The court has said schools can’t open without a legal plan in place.
Is Merrick worried about that ruling?
Heck, no, he said last week. In fact, he thinks the Legislature could adjourn before the court acts.
“I think we’ve done our job. I think it’s a good bill,” Merrick said.
Good for him. But whether it’s really a “good bill” is for the court to decide.
If this is Merrick playing a game of chicken with the Supreme Court, he’s going to lose it badly if the ruling comes out against the Legislature.
At that point, most people in Kansas would be pointing their fingers at Merrick and other lawmakers, telling them to get the problems fixed and fixed fast.
Not allowing schools to open in Kansas? That would be the height of incompetence by lawmakers.
▪ Merrick last week expressed frustration with the budget estimates provided by Gov. Sam Brownback’s staff, legislative staff and university economists.
He made his comments just days before new projections are scheduled to be released this week by the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group. It helps the Legislature figure out how to pay for public services every year.
Incredibly, Merrick doesn’t think providing “estimates” is the way to plan for budgets in Kansas.
“I don’t understand, and I’ve never — I’ve been (in the Legislature) 17 years — I never, never knew how you could run governments on estimates...,” Merrick said.
What a nonsensical comment.
State and local governments around the country make budget estimates every year as they try to pass annual budgets. Those numbers often are updated as the year rolls on, in case changes have to be made.
Many others set their budgets based on “estimates,” too, including businesses and nonprofits.
Here’s what Merrick is really upset about: The budget estimates have been wrong month after month, as the state continues to bring in less revenue than once expected.
Largely because Merrick and the Legislature in 2012 approved income tax cuts pushed by Brownback, which slashed state receipts by more than $600 million a year.
Despite what Merrick thinks, the state still needs to provide budget estimates.
But the experts need to be more realistic. They must acknowledge that the Brownback tax cuts have done more damage than first expected to the stream of money that’s supposed to provide public services to Kansans.