Wednesday was an absolutely awful day for anyone hoping for strong leadership on key issues in Topeka.
To recap the most important events:
▪ Total tax revenues came in nearly $75 million less than estimates for May.
I’ve looked at the numbers closely, and the most crucial villain is the income tax cut that Gov. Sam Brownback pushed through in 2012. The state is now taking in a breathtaking $650 million a year less than it did just three years ago, before the income tax cuts took full effect.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
▪ The Senate and the House met but did not even attempt to do anything serious about the highest-priority item on the minds of many Kansans: Will the Legislature approve a constitutionally valid plan to fund K-12 schools?
If they don’t do that, the schools will have to close on June 30, according to a recent ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court.
▪ The Republican-dominated Senate passed a meaningless resolution aimed at discriminating against transgender students.
It basically tells the students, who already often are targets of bigotry by their peers in schools, that they shouldn’t be allowed to use the bathroom according to their current gender. They are supposed to follow their birth gender.
Here’s some of what needs to happen in the near future.
On the budget, Brownback likely will have to cut or transfer even more money from the current year’s budget – which ends June 30 – just to balance it.
The tax cuts have so depleted the Sunflower State’s revenues that bad decisions are the only things left for Brownback to do right now.
Ultimately, the tax cuts must be repealed to restore a semblance of order to the budget so it can deliver better public services to 3 million Kansans.
Regarding the school-funding issue, Brownback soon needs to call a special session so the Legislature can get together and decide how to abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Let’s forget all the nonsense from GOP legislative leaders and Brownback himself that the Legislature might ignore what the court said.
Kansas legislators need to follow the rule of law, not create a constitutional crisis.
Yael T. Abouhalkah writes for the Kansas City Star.