Gov. Sam Brownback tried mightily to seize control of all branches of state government.
Brownback’s quest was clear in 2012 when he relied on campaigns of malicious lies to purge moderate lawmakers from the Kansas Legislature. He particularly targeted members of the Senate led by then-Senate President Steve Morris of Hugoton, who tried to provide resistance to the governor’s radical agenda.
With control of the executive and legislative branches secured, Brownback set his sights on the last wall of resistance — the judicial branch — without regard for checks and balances needed to limit government power.
Annoyed by Kansas Supreme Court rulings that deemed spending on K-12 public schools unconstitutional, the governor and fellow ultraconservatives intent on shifting dollars to private school options tried various schemes.
One plot involved amending the Kansas Constitution to let the Legislature determine school funding. Such change only would have led to deeper state cuts to education, and an inevitable rise in local property taxes to support public schools.
The notion fizzled then, and should again.
Ultraconservative legislators recently renewed a call to change the state constitution to reduce or eliminate the Supreme Court’s part in school finance, which is to assess the adequacy and equality of state funding for K-12 public schools.
The Legislature has an April deadline to present a constitutional plan for school finance. It won’t be easy with budget woes created by Brownback’s own botched tax policies.
Unfortunately, his side would rather craft an end-around than work toward a solution — one that must address a decline in the Legislature’s commitment to per-pupil spending over the past decade.
Proponents of changing the constitution say their plan would give local school boards more control over funding decisions. But such claims ring hollow considering their main objective is to control the courts.
Whether it was trying to change how judges are selected, attacking justices up for retention or other strategies, the governor and his cohorts wanted to eliminate any hurdle to their ideology-based agenda.
And Brownback’s camp would have us believe the Supreme Court somehow is politically motivated.
How laughable, especially coming from politicians who’d trample on checks and balances to achieve their self-serving goals.