In a Wichita debate on Tuesday evening, gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach grabbed the money quote with the use of one startling word, “ransom.”
Jonathan Shorman of the Wichita Eagle summed it up thusly in his opening sentence: “Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Gov. Jeff Colyer paid a $500 million ransom to the Kansas Supreme Court in a game that will never end.”
Kobach was referring to the additional $548 million in spending for public education to be phased in over five years that the legislature approved and Gov. Jeff Colyer signed it into law. In June, the Court ruled that even with the $548 million, the “State has not met the adequacy requirement in Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution under its proposed remediation plan.” Said Kobach, “The Supreme Court’s latest decision is going to call for another $300 to $400 million on education, hurting Kansas taxpayers even more.”
Gov. Jeff Colyer, for his part, argued that if Kobach prevailed, schoolchildren are the ones who would suffer. “My opponent, Kris Kobach, doesn’t want us to put additional money into our schools,” said Colyer. “I think Kansas schools need that money. Otherwise his policy will close Kansas schools, particularly our rural schools.”
School funding would seem to be the most critical distinction between the only two candidates with a realistic chance of winning the Republican primary in August.
For the Associated Press, however, the most newsworthy issue was among the least contentious. The AP headline reads, “Kansas candidate: No extra pay to arm teachers.” For whatever reason, the AP gives top billing to Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, a serious candidate who has stepped forward in the wrong election cycle.
Selzer argued that local school boards should decide for themselves whether to allow teachers to be armed but that they ought not offer extra pay lest they encourage the marginally trained to bring their weapons to school.
Colyer agreed that arming teachers should be left to local districts as did Kobach. Said Kobach, “You’ve got to have a good guy with a gun somewhere in the building.” Former state Sen. Jim Barnett opposed arming teachers, but no one was listening.