The end of the line is near and what has been a long time coming may actually happen. Kansas public schools may not be open in the fall because the state legislature and Governor Sam Brownback have starved the beast, with the beast being your children's future.
This conflict began several years ago when several school districts filed a lawsuit against the state for not funding education at a level that is constitutional. A local district court judge ruled in favor of the school districts and instructed the state government to increase funding on a per-student basis.
Governor Sam Brownback and the legislature pledged to meet the court's demands, but they didn't. They actually responded by cutting education even more and, as you may recall, some schools were forced to close early for the year because they didn't have enough money to stay open. The government cut their budgets in the middle of the school year and the schools systems had no way to adjust but to close early.
What happened next is a matter of public record. Having done nothing to rectify the situation, the case against the state's inadequate funding proceeded to the state Supreme Court which also ruled against the state.
Governor Brownback and the legislature responded by launching a campaign against the entire state judiciary. The legislature passed a bill to strip the judiciary of its authority to appoint district judges; a bill that was also struck down by the state Supreme Court. Governor Brownback's office also threatened to defund the entire judiciary for telling the government to provide more funding for public education.
There's nothing funny about that but it's also so absurd you can't help but laugh.
Having exhausted all their options, the Kansas state government is facing a choice: they can either increase funding for education or schools will be closed in July.
That may seem like a no-brainer, but as you probably know the coffers of Kansas have been drained dry by Governor Sam Brownback's economic regime which has seen businesses pay no income taxes, at all, and individuals declaring themselves businesses so they don't have to pay income taxes.
And that's just one of the problems. Members of the state legislature are also arguing among themselves about paying for things. The state has missed its revenue targets, again, and some lawmakers aren't keen on the idea of diverting funds from their own cities to other cities in the same goddamn state.
From the Wichita Eagle:
Republican leaders met with the governor late Wednesday. Seven Johnson County Republican senators released a statement in the evening warning that the “court ruling is destructive to Johnson County schools.”
Many Johnson County lawmakers are reluctant to approving a funding fix that could take money from their districts and send it to Wichita and other districts throughout the state.
Are we on the same team here or aren't we?
For his part, Governor Brownback would still like people to believe that the judiciary is the real enemy, not himself.
“I will work with the Attorney General and Legislative leadership to respond aggressively and appropriately to any action taken by the Kansas Supreme Court to close our schools,” Brownback said. “Kansas has great schools and they should remain open. The Courts should not be playing politics with our children’s education.”
The local GOP's contempt for the court is ironic given the number of times over the years we've listened to them crow about a possible constitutional crisis sparked by Tyrannical Dictator King Obama.
Some lawmakers in Kansas are now openly calling for ignoring the state Supreme Court and may actually cause a constitutional crisis.
Lawmakers have a deadline of the end of this month to come up with a solution, but the current legislative session has ended. They've all gone home. They went home without doing anything.