For years now, legislators in the State of Kansas have been paying nervous tribute to the Kansas Supreme Court.
Indeed, the natives of Skull Island were no more intimidated by their beast than many Kansas legislators are by the Supreme Court. And the natives could appease Kong with a virgin or two. The Supreme Court has been much more demanding.
As reported by the Kansas Policy Institute, the Kansas House developed a school funding plan in late March that proposes to give schools a bump of $500 million in educational spending over five years to pacify the Supreme Court. The House passed this bill on Tuesday afternoon.
So far Republican Senate leaders are proving to be of sterner stuff. They will not sacrifice their virgin without a fight. Their gas bomb is a proposed constitutional amendment that would “declare the power to appropriate funding for education is exclusively a legislative power and not subject to judicial review.” They don’t want to appease the beast. They want to render it powerless.
Republican Senate President Susan Wagle and Majority Leader Jim Denning refused to move forward on the $500 million tribute. “It spends money that we don’t have, and they’re trying to pay for it with gimmicks,” said Denning, R-Overland Park. “We’ve been pushed into a corner,” said Wagle, R-Wichita. “Kansans can’t afford the bill that the House just passed.”
The additional $500 million includes an increase in special education funding, but most would go to an increase in base state aid. KPI argues that the House plan cannot be enacted without a tax increase in the near future, “especially if legislators supporting it hold true to their definition of a fiscally sound budget.”
As on Skull Island, the appeasers are horrified that someone would choose to fight rather than offer more tribute. “Wagle and Denning are acting like school-yard bullies,” Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, told the Kansas City Star. “This tactic is not going to result in the passage of a constitutional amendment. Instead, it will result in the closure of our state’s schools.”
There is no guarantee the $500 million in tribute will keep the schools open. Last year, the Supreme Court rejected the package proposed by the Kansas legislature and may do so again.
Rep. Chuck Weber, a Wichita Republican, pointed to a common sense compromise. “Some of us,” he said, “would be willing to pay that price, a high price on the school finance if we can get the constitutional amendment to end this cycle of lawsuits.”
It’s time for the gas bombs.