Capitol Update: Rep. Clayton says idea of constitutional amendment on K-12 funding would be time ‘wasted’ on ‘effort to shirk our responsibilities’

Rep. Stephanie Clayton
Rep. Stephanie Clayton

Each legislative session for the past few years, we’ve provided northeast Johnson County’s elected officials with a chance to update constituents on the issues they’re most interested in at the capitol.

With the expansion of our coverage area last year to include the entire Shawnee Mission School District footprint, we’ve also expanded the list of state representatives and senators we’ve asked to participate in these “Capitol Update” columns. For 2018, we’ll be featuring three legislators’ columns each Monday. We’ve broken the Shawnee Mission area delegation into the following three rotations:

Senate districts:

  • Barbara Bollier
  • John Skubal
  • Jim Denning
  • Dinah Sykes
  • Mary Pilcher Cook

House districts (western):

  • Jarrod Ousley
  • Tom Cox
  • Linda Gallagher
  • Cindy Neighbor
  • Randy Powell
  • Cindy Holscher

House districts (eastern):

  • Stephanie Clayton
  • Melissa Rooker
  • Jerry Stogsdill
  • Brett Parker
  • Nancy Lusk
  • Jan Kessinger

We’ll start today, the first day of the session with update columns from Reps. Ousley and Clayton and Sen. Bollier. Below is Rep. Clayton’s first dispatch:

Today marks the beginning of the 2018 legislative session. The first week of session is marked primarily with ceremony: tomorrow evening is the State of the State address, followed by the submission of the Governor’s budget proposals to the legislature.

The State of the State address is an opportunity for the governor to communicate his policy agenda to the legislature. We have been told that the governor will speak specifically to the most recent court decision regarding the Gannon case, related to school funding.

The legislature has consistently failed to properly address this issue over the past five years. The fix is simple and obvious: to fulfill our constitutional obligation to fully fund K-12 schools by allocating the resources needed to do so.

We have a deadline to submit our education plan by April 30. We have been asked to come to a decision by March 1, in order to allow time for preparations to be made in order to present the new plan. Despite the precious little time that remains, I have faith that we will solve this problem.

First, four technical changes need to be made to the funding formula in order to comply with standards of equity. Legislation that addresses these needed changes has already been written and submitted and can be reviewed by the proper committee.The legislature can then determine if they would prefer to either make massive cuts to other sections of the state budget in order to find the funding for education, or to raise taxes in order to generate the funds required. The decision to either re-allocate funding or to raise taxes is not an easy one, but legislators are charged with the power of the purse, and this is the time for us to take that responsibility.

However, in an effort to avoid making the difficult choices, there is a push by some to rewrite the State Constitution. Time may be wasted by this effort to shirk our responsibilities as appropriators by changing the rules. I sincerely hope that this effort to avoid our duties is not pursued for long, as it is not a viable path to a resolution. It is time for your legislature to fulfill our constitutional obligations, and to face the tough decisions that lie ahead.

It has been an honor to serve alongside members of the Northeast Johnson County Delegation, and we have proven to you that we are able to cast aside any differences and band together to do the work that needs to be done. The work that we did in 2017 was a shining example of bipartisan collaboration, and I have every confidence that this delegation will continue to build consensus and bring home results, as Kansas progresses on the track to stability.

I enjoy hearing from you! Please email me at stephanie.clayton@house.ks.gov, find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @sscjocoks, where I live-tweet my votes and legislative proceedings.