Budget mess – With the state sinking in debt and borrowing more, less state funding will trickle down to communities. While wealthier school districts will have no problem relying more on local support for public schools, it’s a dismal prospect elsewhere – including smaller, rural districts in western Kansas. Blame the mess on the 2012 GOP primary loss of many pro-education state senators who were sent packing in favor of candidates endorsed by an ultraconservative Americans for Prosperity-Kansas Chamber-Koch brothers faction that works against public schools. Kansans who sat out that primary – and teachers in particular – should take notice.
Garden City Telegram
Due process – Tenure often is seen as protecting substandard teachers from dismissal, but it also protects good teachers from capricious dismissal based on something other than their teaching performance. It’s difficult to know exactly how the state’s due-process action will play out across Kansas. However, depending on how individual school districts alter and enforce due-process protections for their teachers, it’s possible those provisions could become a significant factor in where teachers choose to pursue their careers.
Early childhood – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback made the right move when he vetoed the $5 million that the Legislature swiped from early childhood programs. It was – like so many decisions by our Legislature these days – a mistake to take the money and transfer it to the Kansas Bioscience Authority. Brownback’s veto keeps the money in the Kansas Endowment for Youth to cover important education for small children. Now Brownback needs to take one more important step to correct the Legislature’s mistaken ways. He should push to expand Medicaid.
Mortgage fee – Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill that by 2019 will phase out the fee people pay to register their mortgage when they purchase property. The cost to the purchaser isn’t exorbitant – $2.60 for every $1,000 borrowed, or $2,600 on a $100,000 loan – but it can count up in a hurry for counties. Even if property values increase, over the years Saline County still will be out millions of dollars. Once again, cities, counties and property owners will pay for the generosity of state government.
Some of the state’s credit risks will be increasingly borne by local governments, which will find themselves cushioning the blow on residents who’ve relied on state services and programs that, because of the lack of revenue, are being cut back. Now, apparently not content to slash state revenue, the Legislature and Brownback have taken to cutting revenue counties rely on. In eliminating the mortgage registration fee, the Legislature and governor have only added insult to injury.
Social media policy – Perhaps there is a way the Kansas Board of Regents could have done a worse job of writing a social media policy. But it’s hard to see how. In its rush to overreact to a problematic tweet by a University of Kansas professor, the governing board of the state’s public universities wrote a punitive policy regulating use of social media by employees. With that action, academics lost the freedom of bold, spontaneous expression in today’s most popular forums. The regents lost respect and credibility.
Kansas City Star
Dole – Bob Dole was at his best on the floor of the U.S. Senate or working out compromise deals in closed-door sessions with Democrats. The former majority leader might have a tough go of it if he were in the Senate today with tea party and spineless members of the House and Senate. But what we all do know is that the popular senator from Kansas would tell it like it is, no matter the era. Dole’s life can be summed up in one line: He has been a good and faithful (public) servant.