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. Cindy Holscher, Rep. Jan Kessinger and Sen. Jim Denning are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Rep. Holscher’s filing:
After years of litigation due to the underfunding of our public schools, much was accomplished last year in terms of getting our state on track in this critical area. Legislators worked to put a strong formula in place along with increased funding. With its review, the court indicated the job was nearly complete, with really just one area overlooked: adjusting for inflation.
With the start of the 2019 session, many of us reported to Topeka ready to take on the task of finishing the job of funding our schools, as directed by our constituents. However, that hasn’t been the goal of the extremist leadership team and committee chairs. In fact, much time in the House K-12 Budget Committee has been spent avoiding the whole discussion, even with looming deadlines.
The Senate tried to make it easier for us by passing the Governor’s plan which adjusts for inflation and would most likely put an end to the litigation. All we need to do is adopt that language in the House and we can most likely be done with the lawsuit – and, as an added bonus, we would be adequately funding our schools. We are literally at the one-yard line. We have never been closer and we have never been in this position where we have the revenue flow to swiftly make it happen. All we have to do is get the ball across the goal.
Unfortunately, the extremist leadership team doesn’t seem interested in allowing that to manifest as they want to deny the Governor any type of victory in this regard. Rather, they want to push forward a plan that changes the formula and does not put funding where it needs to be. And, they are putting immense pressure on their members to vote accordingly. That pressure comes in the form of threats of potential loss of committee chair positions, etc… Additionally, there is the concern of serving the far-right interest groups that fuel the campaigns of many of these Legislators.
Just like in football, Monday Night will likely be pivotal. With a full day of bills on the schedule, school finance falls at the end of the agenda. Many members are ready to advance the Governor’s language to fund our schools and fulfill the court order. The big question though, is what members of the speaker’s party do: Will they succumb to the pressure and fumble, or will they listen to the people they serve and take the ball and cross the goal?
Cast your bets accordingly.