Prairie Politics

Democratic leader asks GOP legislators to provide 5 efficiencies

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, posted a letter to Republican lawmakers to his Facebook page Tuesday morning, a day after the State Finance Council weighed funding requests from school districts.
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, posted a letter to Republican lawmakers to his Facebook page Tuesday morning, a day after the State Finance Council weighed funding requests from school districts. Courtesy of Sen. Anthony Hensley/Facebook

The top Democrat in the Kansas Senate wants Republican lawmakers to provide five ways to make the Legislature more efficient.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, posted a letter to Republican lawmakers to his Facebook page Tuesday morning, a day after the State Finance Council weighed funding requests from school districts.

Last week, Republican lawmakers on the finance council sent school superintendents a letter asking them to provide five ways they have increased efficiencies in their school districts “especially those that have led to better outcomes in the classroom over the past three years.”

Hensley’s letter parodies the GOP letter by asking Republican lawmakers to submit “information about why the 2015 Legislature was in session for a record-setting 114 days at an additional expense to taxpayers of $1 million.” It also asks them to provide five ways to increase the Legislature’s efficiency, “especially those that will lead to better outcomes and prevent a repeat of the length and expense of this year’s session.”

He posted his letter next to a copy of the Republican letter, which was signed by Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, and budget chairmen Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr., R-Olathe, and Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, all of whom sit on the finance council.

Hensley’s letter, which is signed “Kansas Taxpayers,” asks lawmakers to return this information before the 2016 election. “It is very important that information about this issue is available to those voters that truly have an extraordinary interest in your re-election,” the letter states, referencing Republican lawmakers’ concern that the extra school funding only go to districts “that truly have an extraordinary need.”

Merrick’s office, which sent the original letter, said it did not have time to “deal with Senator Hensley’s jokes.”

The council voted to give districts about $6 million in aid Monday. More than $15 million had been requested by 38 districts. Wichita sought about $1 million in aid, but lawmakers tabled a decision on that request until at least October.

Districts’ responses to the letters were not mentioned when decisions on funding were made. In its response, Wichita highlighted its partnership with the Wichita Metro Area Chamber of Commerce and its participation in a natural gas buying group made up of 50 school districts.

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.

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