Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Brett Parker, Rep. Cindy Neighbor and Sen. Dinah Sykes were scheduled to send updates this week. (Rep. Neighbor has not responded to any of our invitations to participate in Capitol Update). Here’s Rep. Parker’s column for the week:
April 30 is the deadline…again. This is the day the Kansas Supreme Court has set for the Kansas Legislature to present our school funding plan to the court. Way back last Fall when the process for school funding began, this seemed like more than enough time to create a realistic budget plan to fully fund our schools based on constitutional parameters.
Unfortunately, a portion of our fellow legislators chose to drag their feet, defer discussion and generally kick the can down the road…again. Now the clock is almost out. As shown in the excellent video by Loud Light last week, the recently passed plan likely misses the mark. In addition, the plan was rushed through so quickly it included an $80 million drafting error and the repeal of a special education grandfather clause. These two issues will cause Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley districts to lose more than $1 million next year.
Efforts to change the Kansas constitution to remove education funding requirements are irresponsible and another waste of time and resources. This non-starter effort is just another distraction.
At this point it is imperative that legislators on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate come together and create a constitutional fix for the education funding plan. We must collaborate with a focus on the singular goal of fully funding our schools. This is not a Democratic, Republican, progressive, or conservative issue. It is our communities taking a stand and saying we value education, we value our children and we believe it is imperative to invest in our future.
I have the pleasure to work with many legislators from both parties who believe we are in Topeka to better the lives of Kansans. There are avenues to compromise that will satisfy the courts, support our schools and deliver on the promise of a well-functioning, responsible state government. With cooperation and a vision for a long-term solution, we have the votes and the power to finally fund our schools at adequate levels.
The timeline is extremely short. Reach out to your representatives today to let them know you expect cooperation and long-term solutions to school funding.