Last week saw a lot of action, and this week, though the Legislature didn't come back until Wednesday, has already seen some movement on the big three: the budget, education finance, and judicial selection.
With the opening salvo of the session over, and with it all the pet projects of the extremist legislators, it is time to get to the crux of the matter.
Kansas is drowning in red ink, and the Legislature has no idea how to fix it. Let roads crumble? Decimate education? Mortgage the state's future with an unbelievable $1 billion in bonds? They will try anything except the obvious:
Restore the revenue.
The Kansas Center for Economic Growth has a new report out, where they note that Kansas continues to lag the region in significant benchmarks: population growth, gross state product, private employment, and private wages. Not what the Governor will tell you, still. The tax cuts he continues to champion have failed. The experiment is over.
- Read the report: Trailing the Competition - KCEG
- Is Kansas revenue back on track? No. - Duane Goossen
This week also saw the much anticipated rollout of the block grant proposal from the Governor's allies in the Kansas Legislature. The PR event was accompanied by buzzword phrases like "increase spending" and "more flexibility" but little actual information. Slowly, details have begun to emerge, but in such a piecemeal fashion that it will be next week before we understand the proposal.
What we do know is that, any "simple" answer to school funding will ignore the details, and in this case, those details are Kansas children. If they are looking for a simple answer, we have one for them.
Fund the formula.
The formula isn't broken, but it is massively underfunded. How can it be evaluated fairly if the extremists have kept it starved for the past seven years?
Of course, they'll do what they want. Or will they? An attempt to eliminate the entire $7.2 million budget of the Parents as Teachers program was foiled this week when advocates and parents stood up to Rep. Peggy Mast (R-Emporia) at a hearing in Topeka. In the end, she backed down, with a face-saving $200,000 taken from the program. The PAT families and supporters stood up, spoke out, and won! Here's the article: