Kansas has had its fill of bad governance in the state Capitol.
The most recent example came in shameless bullying from the Senate in the midst of lawmakers trying to respond to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling on the state underfunding K-12 public schools.
As the House OK’d a plan to increase K-12 support by $500 million over the next five years, word came that the Senate wouldn’t tackle school finance until a constitutional amendment designed to take the courts out of the mix passed both chambers.
One such bill in essence would declare the Legislature solely responsible for funding public schools. Not surprisingly, a key proponent is the Kansas Chamber, working at the behest of the billionaire Koch brothers and their “limited government” agenda.
They cannot be trusted. The same alliance, after all, also endorsed deep income-tax cuts that left the state practically bankrupt — which helped fuel the school-funding crisis and other irresponsible pursuits.
The proposed constitutional amendment would allow still more recklessness.
Legislators could enact all sorts of ugly school-funding policies — slashing support in rural, western Kansas, for example, as many eastern Kansans would prefer — and parents would have no recourse in the courts.
Anyone locally who would agree with the proposed constitutional amendment should know better in a region that’s often shortchanged. But folks with the so-called Kansas Coalition for Fair Funding, a movement aligned with the Kansas Chamber and Kochs, apparently want more of the tax burden dumped on local taxpayers in rural parts.
Letting the Legislature determine school finance without checks and balances would reward more populous areas with greater representation. That’s obvious, and ample cause to reject continued attempts to rein in the Kansas Supreme Court.
In 2016, Kansas voters statewide enthusiastically defended the need to adequately fund all K-12 schools. They retained Supreme Court justices targeted by the far right, and ousted numerous ultraconservative, anti-public education legislators in cahoots with the Kochs, former Gov. Sam Brownback and current Gov. Jeff Colyer, now running for governor.
When it comes to ending the high court’s involvement, the answer is simple: Be sincere about crafting a fair, reasonable and sustainable plan to support our public schools.