Now what? Here are some ideas

The Kansas Legislative Session is over. In the end, we saw some successes where MainStream's values are concerned, and some setbacks. What can you do now to make sure Kansas keeps moving forward?

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A Few Items Left

Road sign indicating the finish line is just aheadToday marks the beginning of the last week of the Kansas Legislative Session. There are still three major topics to finish up: fixing the school finance bill "error," turning back the Senate's irresponsible tax cut bill, and passing the state's budget for the next fiscal year. Here's where we are on all of these topics.

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ACTION - Email Legislators to Fix the Education Funding Bill the Right Way

Action Changes ThingsAsk the Kansas Legislature to do right by schools and fix the education bill the right way! Do it today! They go back into session tomorrow!

By now you’ve heard about SB 423, the education finance bill that passed two weeks ago with an error resulting in most Kansas school districts getting less money than was intended by the bill. In total, this error reduces the amount for schools by $80 million. Some large districts, like SMSD, are slated to lose as much as $2 million, an amount described as catastrophic to schools.

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An Irresponsible Tax Bill

This week we present a guest column by Heidi Holliday, Executive Director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth. KCEG has been at the forefront of demystifying tax policy and promoting responsible fiscal solutions for Kansas, and has been a partner for MainStream in economic topics. At issue in this column, the bill passed by the Senate to refuse almost $500 million in taxes owed to Kansas due to the Federal tax cuts. Quite simply, Kansas cannot afford to turn this money away. And who would be receiving this "windfall?" Not the poorest of Kansans. Not those who would most benefit from infrastructure jobs, a lowered sales tax on food, fully funded public education, or a stronger safety net. They claim taxes are theft? Just who is stealing from whom here?

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Kansans Deserve Better

We never really thought it was over, did we? We suspected that the $500 million education finance legislation passed last weekend was not going to be enough to satisfy the Court. We expected we would have to revisit it. We just thought it would be in a Special Session this summer.

Now, word comes that the bill that was passed has an error in it. One that will short change many school districts to the tune of $80 million. Lawmakers will have to work extra fast to pass a correction when they return April 26, to meet the Court's deadline of April 30.

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Where are we now?

Kansas Capitol domeThe Kansas Legislature has ended the the first, and most significant part of their session. They are scheduled to return on April 26, for the so called "veto session," although there are still several issues to resolve, among them a budget for next year, and the fate of the education amendment we talked about last week.

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Defending Education

Student alone a classroomPart of straddling the line between extremes is staying away from hyperbole. We work to encourage compromise and collaboration, and call out strident calls like "Taxes are theft!" for what they are. That said, we find we cannot emphasize this next point too much: education is under attack in Kansas, and it is time to stand up to defend it, lest we lose an entire generation of children.

This week in Topeka, hearings are underway on a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution to give control of education standards to the Legislature. If made law, this would irreparably hurt education in Kansas, and put one more nail in the coffin of the checks and balances that keep our government sound.

That sounds like a lot of hyperbole, right? Let us convince you.

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Arming Teachers is Ridiculous

In the wake of this weekend's worldwide outpouring of resistance to gun violence, and with a backdrop of little to no action on funding public schools, the Kansas Legislature is holding a hearing on a bill designed, not only to arm Kansas teachers, but to hold school districts liable should they not allow teachers to carry weapons and the unthinkable happens.

Concealed gun in a handbagThis is a terrible idea, and an incredibly tone-deaf move on the part of legislative leadership. We are stunned.

Nobody we have spoken to sincerely believes this bill (HB 2789) has the will behind it to pass, certainly not on the floor of either chamber if it makes it out of committee. So why is this bill being heard?

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ACTION ALERT - Oppose Anti-LGBT Adoptions Bills

FamiliesThe Kansas Legislature is hearing bills TOMORROW (Wed, 3/21/18) that would allow religious organizations to deny adoptions to LGBT families. In addition to the moral grounds (LGBT persons should not be discriminated against), and the data-driven grounds (LGBT families are at least as stable as heterosexual families), MainStream objects to this legislation because religious morality has no place in government.

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$2 billion

You may have heard that the Kansas Legislature on Friday received the report it paid for on the cost to adequately finance public schools in the state. You may have heard this because the numbers were eye-popping, between $400 million and $2.1 billion (with a B). It should be said that many expected the number delivered to be much lower. The report was commissioned by Republican leadership, already keen on spending less on public education. One of the people hired to deliver the report previously low-balled a similar report in Texas. The political rhetoric that surfaced this weekend has been pretty spectacular. And ridiculous.

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