Eagle editorial: Don’t make crisis worse

It was good to hear Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, acknowledge that the state likely will lose the school-funding lawsuit. But not that she thinks the Legislature may defy that ruling.

“We will most likely be in a constitutional crisis,” Wagle said Wednesday at the Wichita Downtown Lions Club.

Any such crisis would be lawmakers’ own doing.

The Kansas Constitution requires the state to finance K-12 education suitably. And after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the state wasn’t meeting that obligation (based on the Legislature’s own cost studies), lawmakers agreed to increase funding.

But funding was cut sharply during the economic downturn, to the point that base state aid is now less than it was before the court ruling. And as the economy has been recovering, lawmakers have chosen to dramatically cut income taxes rather than restore funding.

Wagle suggested that lawmakers are doing the will of the people. But polling consistently shows that Kansans want more money spent on K-12 education.

Polls also show that if there is any tax the public wants to be cut, it’s the property tax, not the income tax. And how many lawmakers ran for office on a FairTax platform? Gov. Sam Brownback didn’t.

Lawmakers and Brownback created this crisis. Don’t make it worse.

For the editorial board, Phillip Brownlee