Due process – An amendment to the school-funding bill that eliminates teacher due-process rights was backed by the conservative special-interest group Americans for Prosperity. Jeff Glendening, AFP’s state director, said the change wasn’t about “protecting the institutions or the labor union. It’s about protecting our kids.” We’re not buying it. This is about weakening labor unions. This was about power. If you want a clear example of why people form unions, meddlesome legislators and their special-interest groups bumbling around where they have no business would provide a good example.
Fed by campaign donations and prompted by Koch lobbyist group Americans for Prosperity, state senators and representatives do not represent Kansans. Their goal is to demoralize teaching ranks as they strive to dismantle what has been one of the nation’s top school systems.
So who are the winners? We’d start with Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Policy Institute and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, which backed the policy changes that didn’t even get vetted by a committee, let alone be examined in public. We throw in Gov. Sam Brownback and the overly conservative majority in both chambers of the Statehouse, who are finding new ways to starve local governments, reduce state services, weaken unions and dismantle public education. The losers? Teachers. Administrators. School districts and the towns they serve. And, most sadly of all, children. They’re not old enough to see the chicanery masquerading as public service. But they are young enough to be affected their entire lives by bad policy decisions in the education arena.
Hays Daily News
As never before, Kansas schools have become the petri dish as to where and how we are headed as a state. Will we crush the unions and trample employees’ rights? Will we favor private schools over public? Will we favor the wealthy over poor? The tea leaves have been cast. Dare we read them?
Court authority – By means of an 11th-hour maneuver, the Legislature took away some of the authority of the state Supreme Court. Now, if Gov. Sam Brownback signs this bill, as he is expected to, each district court will be its own budgetary boss. The old disunity of the system could easily come creeping back. Court employees will be left to wonder about their future. Along with last year’s action to put the governor and the Senate entirely in charge of the selection of judges for the state Court of Appeals, this piece of legislation is another power grab by Brownback and his allies.
Winfield Daily Courier
Genesis – Rodney Steven, president of Genesis Health Clubs, has made donations of between $1,000 and $4,000 to 21 senators and dished out $22,000 to 70 House members while pushing for a bill that would exempt his business from local property taxes. Before the end of the regular session, Sen. Jeff Melcher, R-Leawood, successfully attached Steven’s request to another property-tax exemption bill. For now, Steven will have to wait for a conference committee to take up the issue during the wrap-up session to see whether his investment in tax equity has paid off. If he wins approval, however, it will be a clear message to Kansans that money is the surest tool to ensure fair representation in Topeka.