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A Shawnee County District Court three judge panel ruled Friday that the Kansas legislature continues to violate the Kansas constitution by underfunding public K-12 education.  The decision follows a similar 2005 Kansas Supreme Court ruling.  The Friday ruling found that current school funding levels are 16% below constitutional requirements.

Many have written about the emphasis on education in the locations with incredible entrepreneurial growth - Silicon Valley, the North Carolina Research Triangle, Austin, TX and elsewhere.  For what can best be described as ideological reasons (supported by Arthur Laffer!), Kansas Governor Sam Brownback elected to pursue a strategy at odds with those places while simultaneously claiming to seek to create the same environment.

Plaintiffs, composed of several school districts from across the state, argued that constitutionally-mandated funding could have been maintained but the state legislature instead elected to pass tax cuts. The court agreed:

"It seems completely illogical that the state can argue that a reduction in education funding was necessitated by the downturn in the economy and the state's diminishing resources and at the same time cut taxes further, thereby reducing the sources of revenue on the basis of a hope that doing so will create a boost to the state's economy at some point in the future," the court wrote.
During the 2012 legislative session, Governor Sam Brownback and the Republican-dominated legislature passed a package of tax cuts designed to “grow our economy.”  The cuts reduced individual income tax rates by 15% for lower income individuals to as much as 25% for higher income filers.  The legislation also eliminated income taxes entirely for almost 200,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other small businesses.  At the time of passage, the Kansas Legislative Research Department indicated that the tax cuts would produce a $2.5 billion budget shortfall by 2018.

Education Week ranked Kansas public schools 37th in the country in its 2012 “Quality Counts” annual report.  The organization gave the state a D for kindergarten through 12th grade achievement and D in the teaching profession category.  The state’s overall C average came in just below the national average.  Most ominously, the state received an F grade for college readiness.  

It is reasonable to ask business leaders who among them are interested in moving their business to a state which appears interested in chronically underfunding education.  Are there business leaders interested in moving their families to a state that provides a substandard education?  Are there business leaders interested in opening shop in a state that produces poorly educated future employees?

Or maybe the more appropriate question is directed to Governor Brownback – which types of businesses do you hope to attract to the state of Kansas?  Do you seek companies with paychecks that lead to a sustainable, middle class life standard of living?  Or companies who seek to exacerbate growing income inequality?

Governor Brownback referred to his tax cuts as a “real living experiment.”  For those who advocate government to be “run like a business,” it would be interesting to know more about how the governor has hedged his bet on this experiment to reduce risk to the entire state.

Just for fun, the 2013 Kansas legislature, newly empowered with an even more conservative majority in both houses, will now pursue reforms to the collective bargaining process for teachers.

The governor may want to ask Mitt Romney how that worked for him in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Florida.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)

    It's amazing what people will do to others in the name of themselves.

    by ABlueKansas on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 10:06:14 AM PST

  •  One supposes the harsh landscape (0+ / 0-)

    makes men mean and insensitive. Kansas is the boring leg of a long cattle drive. JMO.

  •  I lived in Kansas years ago (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We really liked it. The schools were good and we made good friends. However, I heard someone quote a statement from a cowboy during cattle drive days:
    Kansas is full of sunshine, sunflowers, and sons of bitches.
    The craziest thing that happened then (70s) was the lege passing a law that airplanes could not serve alcoholic drinks while flying in Kansas air space. It's a dry state - or was!
    Not much change.

  •  After living here for 23 years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shippo1776, KansasNancy

    I've started to get the professional credentials I'd need to work in another state.  

    I think the world of the people here in Kansas.  If my house blew away, I have no doubt my neighbors would show up to help me, no matter that they're Republicans and I'm a Democrat.  The individual people here are incredibly, almost indescribably nice.

    BUT I truly believe that due to Brownback's policies, in the next five to ten years, the individual tax burden we're going to have is going to be so high, even if my income increases, I won't really feel that raise since whatever gain I make will be swallowed up in sales and property taxes.

    The Kansas Democratic Party has a genuine problem.  There's no Democrat in Kansas with a high enough profile to run against Brownback and put up a real fight in 2014.  He has a very, very low approval rating in the state, but without someone voters feel is a viable alternative, we're shit outta luck.

    •  kscatlvr2001: that's kinda how TX is (0+ / 0-)

      but I've got all my fingers and toes crossed we'll get rid of L'il Ricky pretty soon, and the Lege is full of white guys (and idjits like Debbie Whatsername) who aren't getting any younger. Nor am I, but it gives me hope for my grandkids.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 05:54:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Stupid Kansas (0+ / 0-)

    The Republicans in Missouri (they have super majorities in the General Assembly) are now talking about cutting taxes to compete with Kansas to see who can defund critical programs the most.

    Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.

    by MoDem on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 02:41:45 PM PST

    •  I may sound cold hearted, (0+ / 0-)

      but I say let them go for it. Let all the hardcore red states legislate themselves into bankruptcy and rapid decline. Commenters here who live or lived in Kansas talk about what wonderful people there are there, but the simple fact is that those wonderful people voted huge majorities of insane republicans into office to destroy their state and they are just getting what they voted for, just as the rest of the red states are getting. They hate government, unions, public employees, women and the gays, so let them dismantle the education system and starve government down to drown in a bath tub. All the progressives left suffering in those states just need to get the hell out and move to a sane state.

      It's no different than the people of Egypt voting in the Muslim Brotherhood-- now they will get Sharia law and total oppression that THEY VOTED FOR. Kansas citizens voted Brownback and a super majority of wingnuts into their statehouse so they are simply reaping what they have sown, and I personally am relishing the devolution of these states into the utter depravity of the Randian psyche. The only drag for me is that it takes a decade or longer for the real results of their destruction to fully bloom and for their venal agenda to become glaringly obvious with a failed state and utterly despondent population-- whom I would bet a trillion dollar coin will blame liberals in DC for their misery.

      Does this penis in my mouth make me look gay?

      by DesertMac on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 03:28:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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