Amendment vote – The Senate approved a constitutional amendment that would specify that the Legislature alone would determine education spending. It is a dangerous proposition, because it removes an important check and balance of American democracy from a specific area of governance – just because legislators don’t like how the courts have ruled on that particular matter. But the voters can be the judge about whether it is wise to amend the state constitution in this way. The problem is that the Senate would have the vote scheduled for the primary election in August 2014. Primary elections are notorious for low turnout, especially for independent voters, and this clearly is a tactic to engineer the desired outcome. All of this suggests that legislators don’t genuinely care about what citizens really think, but rather have an end-justifies-the-means ethic. And when it comes to tinkering with our state constitution, that is deeply troubling.
Bad numbers – Until an investigative reporter for The Wichita Eagle uncovered a massive discrepancy in the numbers Gov. Sam Brownback was touting, the state’s chief executive was able to boast of the remarkable turnaround Kansas was experiencing since he entered office. Finance experts who dissected tax-cut guru Arthur Laffer’s hypothesis that eliminating income taxes would spur economic growth concluded the consultant manipulated numbers to arrive at his conclusions. When flawed hypotheses and incorrect data are relied upon to predict future economic growth, we can’t help but worry. Kansas is not headed for a short period of belt-tightening. We are driving straight into a self-inflicted financial crisis that will adversely affect the lower and middle classes.
Hays Daily News
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Spring elections – Moving local elections from April to November is a bad idea, and making them partisan is worse. The case for bills in the Senate and House to undertake these changes is simple: Turnout would be better. That’s probably so. But we don’t need party ID to tell us who is who in local elections. Coordinating who votes for whom, and where, with several county election officers can mean extra ballots and extra cost. This is another of the Republican-dominated Legislature’s responses to questions that have not been asked.
Winfield Daily Courier
In keeping with their dogged efforts to impose their will on local governments, while insisting on independence from Washington, lawmakers on the House Elections Committee are considering making all elections for school boards and city and county offices partisan, and shifting them to November. As numerous opponents on those bodies have pointed out, school boards and local governments don’t often wander into partisan territory, and government is better for it. Is it any surprise that controversial Secretary of State Kris Kobach helped prepare this bad bill?
Kansas City Star