Capitol Update: On education funding, says Rep. Clayton, ‘believe the actions of your politicians, not their words’

Rep. Stephanie Clayton.

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. We’re kicking off this year’s Capitol Update columns a week ahead of the start of the legislative session. Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Jarrod Ousley and Sen. Barbara Bollier are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Rep. Clayton’s filing:

The Kansas Legislature is facing a deadline on our political calendar this Friday, April 5. Referred to formally as First Adjournment, the day is also more ominously termed “Drop Dead Day”, and is the last day of the regular political session. Traditionally, the legislature takes a three-week break, and re-convenes in May for the Veto session, which is supposed to be a time when the legislature considers overriding or sustaining any gubernatorial vetoes that have occurred throughout the session.

Earlier this session, the Senate passed a bill with overwhelming support, developed by the Governor, and shepherded through the legislative process by a reasonable and respected conservative Johnson County legislator. This bill, SB 142, was immediately killed in the House Education committee, and replaced with two bills: SB 16, a policy bill, and HB 2395, an appropriations bill. HB 2395 drew so little support in the House that Leadership did not bring it up for a vote, knowing that it would fail. SB 16 passed with the bare minimum of votes.

We head into this final week in the regular legislative session with no plan for our education bill to send to the Attorney General’s office for review. The Senate position is SB 142, and the House position appears to be SB 16, the policy bill that was opposed by all six of the Johnson County Superintendents. What may result could be a solid bill that will pass constitutional muster, or a bad bill that will fail to end the cycle of litigation.

While I have high hopes that reason will prevail (again, the Senate bill had broad bipartisan and cross-factional support), The House position on Education disturbs me greatly, although it does not surprise me. During my time in the Kansas legislature, I have come to rely on a famous quote from Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”. The Kansas Legislature was in a very similar position in April 2014, when we were faced with a deadline to fund education, and in a series of late-night committee meetings and back-room deals, a massively flawed and unconstitutional bill was crafted, and passed with the bare minimum of votes. The members at the forefront of that 2014 deal failed to defend a constitutional solution, setting the state on the path of fiscal turmoil that has as of yet to be resolved.

When the legislature convenes this week, believe the actions of your politicians, not their words. Ask your Senators and Representatives to vote with the recommendations of our six Johnson County Superintendents in mind. And always be aware that when a politician votes consistently to defund schools, and to continue a chaotic system, they are showing you who they are. Believe them.

I work for you! You can contact me via email at Stephanie.Clayton@house.ks.gov, or follow me on Twitter @sscjocoks, where I live-tweet all of my votes in real time. Thank you for allowing me to serve.