The Kansas Senate shut down plans to debate a tax policy bill and a budget bill last week, after Senate leaders said the legislation wouldn’t have the 21 votes necessary for passage.
There was widespread disappointment in the two pieces of legislation–one that would cut K-12 funding by $128 million–and the other, which would increase income taxes on all Kansans and eliminate a small business tax exemption adopted in 2012. However, a Kansas City Star article informed readers it was controversy over school funding cuts alone that stymied debate, ignoring taxpayers upset about the possibility of tax increases. In fact, the headline, “GOP plan to fix Kansas budget implodes amid pressure from educators,” ignored the tax increase controversy completely.
From the article:
“Education activists hit lawmakers with a barrage of emails, phone calls and social media posts in the face of the proposed $128 million cut to schools and votes on both bills were halted.
The article doesn’t quote any constituents who supposedly barraged Senators with emails and phone calls, nor any Senators who expressly said they received that barrage of constituent response.
The article does, however, extensively quote a lobbyist for the Kansas National Education Association, Mark Desetti. Desetti tells the Star that new Sen. John Skubal, R-Overland Park, didn’t understand the voting process. Skubal campaigned on protecting funding for Kansas schools. In the Star story, he does not confirm receiving a barrage of emails and phone calls.
The story also quotes John Robb, an attorney who represents school districts suing the state legislature for more money.
The story notes conservatives in the Senate are unlikely to support a bill that includes large tax increases, but it appears no one bothered to ask any of those Senators whether they received phone calls from constituents concerned about potential tax increases.
The Senate canceled floor debate on two bills, with large constituencies likely opposed to both. Are there lobbyists and concerned citizens who oppose the tax increases? Yes, though the Star didn’t quote any of them. Several opponents of proposed tax increases testified during Senate committee last week. Just as several education lobbyists testified against school funding cuts. Star readers wouldn’t know there are people who oppose the tax increases from reading the paper, because the writers decided to focus on opposition to one proposal–school funding cuts–while ignoring opposition to the tax increase proposal.