I was a Wellsville High School wrestler growing up, and I learned early on not to give up position for the possible finish. Typically, the wrestler that retains the dominant position will win the match. In politics it is very similar. The policy position taken should never be given up prior to receiving the agreed upon outcome. In other words, do not ever vote for questionable policy with just the verbal “promise” of something in return.
There are members of the Kansas House that voted for the questionable K-12 funding bill HB2445 with just a “promise” that the Senate will reduce the total amount and that there will be a resolution for a Constitutional Amendment passed out for the Kansas people to vote on. This “finish” is dangerous in that it is extraordinarily huge, adding more than $2 billion in state money over five years to the schools with total disregard for the rest of the budget and our current Kansas constitutional situation.
The school lobby is still demanding more money in spite of the fact that this is the most that can possibly be appropriated without a tax increase right now in this election year. It will steal money from transportation, the pension system (KPERS), higher education, and other agencies such as Kansas Bureau of Investigation and our mental health system just to make the budget balance. Although the conversation is not over yet, HB2445 passed the House 71-53 prior to a constitutional amendment even being heard in committee. I voted “no.”
The good news is that the Kansas Senate leadership demanded the constitutional amendment prior to any agreement. The Kansas Coalition for Fair Funding, a group of Kansas agricultural and business leaders, requested introduction for a constitutional amendment. Members of the Coalition include: Kansas Contractors Association, Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Livestock Association, PMCA (Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association), and American Warrior.
The Coalition believes — as do I — that the proposed constitutional amendment will lift the shadow over the state’s ability to regain economic stability and begin to move Kansas forward. Work is now progressing on this in the form of House Concurrent Resolution 5029. HCR 5029 is a constitutional amendment to declare the power to appropriate funding for education is exclusively a legislative power and not subject to judicial review. HCR 5029 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and had a hearing on Tuesday, April 3. It was passed favorably with amendments, and it now sits “below the line” to be heard on the floor of the House Committee of the Whole.
We must get our state out of this endless cycle of litigation and simply empower teachers to properly prepare our kids for life after high school. This will never be accomplished if legislators concede their position with just a politician’s promise to show for it.
Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, represents Franklin County and the 5th District in the Kansas House. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org