The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

April 15, 2014

Other Views: State’s theatrics

— Conservatives in the Kansas Legislature have taken advantage of a serious problem — inequities in public school funding — to attack teachers and create new problems.

In a deplorable sneak attack, Senate leadership and allies in the House tied the elimination of due process for teachers to crucial elements of school funding. That issue hadn’t been dealt with in the normal committee process. Conservatives rammed it through without caring whether lawmakers were fully informed of the consequences.

Due process hearings — used about 10 times a year in Kansas — protect teachers from arbitrary firings if, say, they run into a conflict with a parent or administrator. It is a condition of teachers’ contracts throughout the state. To deny it represents a major change for the worse in teacher-school relations.

But even before a weekend of late nights and frayed nerves, Kansas lawmakers were in the throes of agony.

They needed to find $129 million to correct unconstitutional school funding inequities. But thanks to a self-inflicted budget crisis with no end in sight, the road to $129 million was paved only with brutal choices. Lawmakers discussed taking the money out of the state’s reserve fund, but those dollars are needed just to keep the lights on in state government. They talked about taking from some educational funds to give to others. At one point, senators were reduced to eyeing the $2 million in the problem gambling fund.

Right now, the budget is balanced only by dipping into reserve funds. If current revenue and spending trends continue, it will go underwater in 2016. After that, a state that is shortchanging its universities and disabled citizens will have to start cutting more deeply; forecasters estimate $962 million in cuts by the 2019 fiscal year.

Kansas already is raiding its highway fund to pay for transportation of school students and even a chunk of the debt service for the recently completed Statehouse reconstruction. Part of the teachers’ pension funds are coming from gambling revenues, in apparent violation of state statute.

This barren landscape is not what Gov. Sam Brownback and his allies in the Legislature promised when they enacted deep income tax cuts over the last two years. The mantra then was “growth.”

Incredibly, some lawmakers in Missouri want to imitate Kansas’ mistake. A bill sponsored by GOP Sen. Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit and passed by the Senate would eventually cost the state more than $620 million a year, according to legislative researchers.

Kansas lawmakers should stop creating distractions and deal with the reality of their state’s fiscal crisis. And proponents of drastic tax cuts in Missouri should shake off the right-wing think tank nonsense and take a clearheaded look at the debacle taking place across the state line.

—The Kansas City Star

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Opinion
  • Our View.jpg Our View: Lone holdout

    Missouri continues to be the only state in the United States that won’t allow a prescription drug database to be established.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anson Burlingame, guest columnist: Much has changed in U.S. over 14 years

    Does anyone recall the major economic argument during the 2000 presidential campaign between George Bush and Al Gore?

    July 22, 2014

  • Our View: Vote no on Amendment 1

    Proponents of Amendment 1 — the Right to Farm Act — have not made their case. We’ve met with advocates of this amendment to the Missouri constitution and listened to their arguments, but we don’t believe they have adequately answered the central question: Who is it protecting, and from what?

    July 13, 2014

  • Your View: Amendment 5 is deception of the highest order

    Amendment 5, sponsored by Missouri Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, “relating to the right of Missouri citizens to keep and bear arms” provides that “any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

    July 21, 2014

  • Other Views Other Views: No time to turn away

    With the shooting down of a commercial airliner over Ukraine and fighting that has now escalated to a ground war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, it would be easy for most U.S. citizens to throw up their hands and turn their backs.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: Power to defend

    The Globe’s editorial ‘More guns not the answer’ (July 15) was saturated with classic progressive blather.

    July 21, 2014

  • Your View: Thanks for the generosity

    Generally, all we hear about is the bad news, and obviously, there is plenty available. Our church felt this event worthy of public knowledge.

    July 21, 2014

  • Your View: How to upgrade your business

    Let’s see now. When some folks wish to improve the exterior of their properties and have other taxpayers pay for the improvements, they create a community improvement district.

    July 21, 2014

  • Our View.jpg Our view: Street smarts

    If your daily commute has been shortened because you no longer have to wait at 26th Street and Connecticut Avenue for a train to pass, thank your own tax dollars.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Other Views Other Views: Decision fails test

    With the announcement that the State Board of Education has decided not to release individual school test results because of cyberattacks and other problems this spring, educators are scratching their heads, as are taxpayers who footed the bill.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

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