The Kansas City Star editorial board begins an editorial about school finance with, “Here we go again.” Readers, who thought the Star might offer fair coverage to conservatives thanks to a new editorial page editor, likely echoed those words with a sigh.
The Star is at it again –full speed ahead hard left. This time, the editorial board wanders into material that isn’t quite accurate in order to cast heavy sighs at conservatives like state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald.
“Another unanimous Kansas Supreme Court ruling,” they write. The truth is a bit gray. Two Kansas Supreme Court justices sat the recent school finance case out, including Caleb Stegall, the justice most likely to deviate from Supreme Court groupthink. He and Justice Carol Beier were replaced temporarily by lower court judges. It was a unanimous decision, however by all seven sitting on the case.
The board slams lawmakers for “screaming about a court run amok.”
“Once again, they’re threatening a ‘constitutional crisis,’ meaning they would defy the court and refuse to spend the additional dollars the judges ordered,” the editorial reads.
First, the judges don’t have the authority to appropriate funds. That might be why they demanded more funding, but didn’t specify a dollar amount. That’s not their purview, and to do so should spark a constitutional crisis. A separation of powers exists for a reason.
Second, the Kansas Supreme Court doesn’t have the authority to close schools, though they’ve made the threat in the past. They can’t call out the National Guard. They can’t send the Kansas Highway Patrol to guard the doors of public schools. The general consensus is that they could try to prohibit the state treasurer from writing checks to public schools, thereby starving them of funding and forcing them to close for lack of operating cash. However, state statute says the Justices can’t order the treasurer not to cut checks approved by the Legislature. That law hasn’t been adjudicated, but if push came to shove, it would first be adjudicated in lower courts before reaching the Kansas Supreme Court. Either Star editorialists don’t know this fact, or they are ignoring it in order to advance the idea that the Courts can simply scribble some words on a paper and close public schools.
“Stomping and snorting about school funding is getting awfully old, and it does nothing to move the state forward when it comes to solving an extremely difficult problem,” the paper reads.
While the editors correctly call the school funding ruling a “challenge,” they don’t bother describing why legislators like state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald are suggesting the court should “stuff it.”
Lawmakers spent hours and hours discussing school funding during the 2017 legislative session. At numerous hearings, they listened to information from stakeholders before adopting a formula they believed would meet the Supreme Court’s demands. Perhaps the editorial board doesn’t realize that passing any school finance formula requires the votes of 63 individuals in the Kansas House and 21 individuals in the Kansas Senate. Those votes don’t come easy.
So while the board of the Missouri paper bemoans what members call a “needless layer of tension and distraction,” they completely ignore the political realities of collecting the necessary votes on an issue of appropriation.
According to the editorial board, the sole solution is a tax increase, but the Court has no authority to require one. Star editors are revealing their hand; they’re all-in for another massive tax increase.
So, yes, here we go again with an editorial board completely unwilling or incapable of understanding political realities that may get in the way of that narrative. What a shame. What a sham.