"Bundling" is the practice of tying unpopular bills to "must pass" measures like budgetary bills, forcing legislators to vote for both if they want either to pass. The GOP promised to stop the practice, but in Kansas, the message seems to have been missed. KS legislative committee chairs are holding hostage key state services in exchange for destructive, ideological policy changes to education and the courts.
Here are two examples currently working their way through the KS Legislature.
1. Public education financing. Senator Ty Masterson, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, will not fulfill the equity issues raised by the court to school districts unless Kansas legislators also agree to these and other demands:
- Remove teacher licensure requirements (among the strongest predictors of student achievement)
- Ban college and career ready education standards
- And/or allow for-profit entities to squander our children's education and waste our tax payer dollars via new charter school legislation (see Ohio)
2. The KS Courts budget. Restoration of $8.5 million in funding cuts that the courts require just to provide basic, state-mandated services (a budget issue) have been bundled with curtailing of the Supreme Court’s constitutional authority to manage Kansas courts (a policy issue). Is this legislative retaliation for the school finance ruling?
Whether it’s school finance or the court system, bundling is now the practice in Kansas. But why?
In 2010 Republicans introduced a new governing agenda going forward, “The Pledge to America”. It says they will "end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with 'must-pass' legislation to circumvent the will of the American people." Instead, they, "will advance major legislation one issue at a time."
Certainly the July 1st deadline of the Supreme Court ruling to equalize public education funding qualifies as "must pass" legislation, so why the discussion about bundling funding with bills to privatize public education?
Is Governor Brownback supporting this position?
Are we to believe the only option is to swallow the poison pill in order to receive the funding restoration necessary to keep our courts open past July 1? No.
Are we to believe these bundled bills are the will of Kansans? No.
Should we expect our moderate legislators to make this undeniably no-win, difficult choice? No.
We hope the party that made the pledge to take one issue at a time is willing to follow that pledge as diligently as they have followed other recent pledges. If it's good policy for the country, it should be good policy for Kansas.
We encourage all Kansans to speak out against bundling of bills.
Do more than vote.