Kansas Senate leadership was pretty clear in its statement about the Kansas Supreme Court’s recent school financing ruling, but the editorial writers at the Topeka Capital-Journal say they don’t understand the meaning of common words.
Senate President Susan Wagle, Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine, and Majority Leader Jim Denning, all Republicans, said in a joint Senate leadership statement:
“It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court failed to allow this new school finance formula, which includes substantially increased funding, to be in effect for a full school year before passing swift judgment,” the statement reads. “This ruling shows clear disrespect for the legislative process and puts the rest of state government and programs in jeopardy. We will be in communication with our Senate colleagues about this ruling as soon as we have reviewed the decision with our legal counsel. As promised, Senate Republicans remain committed to providing every Kansas student with an exceptional education, however, raising taxes to fund this unrealistic demand is not going to happen.”
The parlance confused the Topeka Capital-Journal’s editorial board. In an editorial, the board opines, “while it’s fine to be critical of the court’s decision, what did Wagle, Longbine, and Denning mean with the words ‘not going to happen?’ Perhaps that they were merely talking about the difficulty of passing another tax increase in 2018, but does that really seem like a plausible interpretation?”
Yes, that seems like a plausible interpretation. Lawmakers, duly elected by the people, spent hours of committee time listening to educators, researchers, and shareholders in order to craft a formula that would meet the court’s objectives, and as importantly, garner enough votes to pass through the Kansas House and Kansas Senate. The court isn’t in a position to mandate a tax increase, so it’s perfectly reasonable for lawmakers to say that’s one option they won’t consider.
The Cap-J editorialists are befuddled: “Just look at the rest of the statement,” the editorial reads. “They attacked the court’s ruling as dangerous, disrespectful and most important of all, ‘unrealistic.’ Does this mean they won’t abide by it?”
Aside from the fact that none of the statements the editorial refers to use the word “dangerous,” the meaning of the other words suggest the Legislature will consider the court’s opinion, but leadership will stop short of increasing taxes.
The Journal slogs into name-calling, saying lawmakers are constitutional illiterates.
Pot meet kettle. Someone should tell the editorial board the court doesn’t have the authority to appropriate funding. It’s also debatable whether they have the authority to close the schools.