Opinion Columns & Blogs

Kansas views on school funding, picking justices

Education funding – In his State of the State address Tuesday, Gov. Sam Brownback cited education as a cornerstone for economic prosperity. But he’s since pitched a modest increase in education funding that’s nowhere close to what’s necessary. He also promoted changing the state constitution to let a politically motivated Legislature determine how much money is needed for schools – a clear path to even deeper state cuts to education and an inevitable rise in property taxes at the local level to support schools.

– Garden City Telegram

It is inconceivable how Republican lawmakers could so vehemently protest a District Court ruling that the state has not fulfilled its constitutional obligation to fund our public schools. Do lawmakers not do their homework? Reliable research makes clear the benefits of a well-educated public both to society and to the economy. If they only choose to play politics and fail to diligently review the studies, we can kiss Kansas’ reputation as a high-quality education state goodbye.

– Marysville Advocate

The lament of Kansas Republicans that Kansas judges have overstepped their bounds – again – is hogwash. If Kansas lawmakers would stop violating the state constitution, Kansas judges would leave them alone.

– Manhattan Mercury

In his speech, Brownback called on the Legislature to pass a statute clarifying what constitutes “suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state,” as called for in the state constitution, rather than leaving that call up to the courts. The Legislature should be more clear about setting standards for funding schools. But lawmakers and the governor should also bear in mind that a suitable education is a constitutional right, which is why school boards have turned to the courts for redress.

– Kansas City Star

The economy was a reasonable excuse for defaulting on school-funding promises for a couple years. But that excuse didn’t fly once the Legislature and governor opted to cut income taxes severely last year rather than restore school spending. Legislators like to blame the courts and “activist” judges, but legislators only have themselves to blame for being in this position.

– Hutchinson News

Justices – Brownback wants appellate-court judges to be elected or to have his selection approved by the Legislature. What he didn’t say was that the real reason he wants the change is so he can pack the courts with his people. The ruling by a three-judge panel that Kansas must pour millions more into K-12 schools is a prime example of why the governor wants control. Right now, the courts are the only roadblock between the governor and his getting whatever he wants, since he already controls the Legislature.

– Salina Journal