A Beatdown for Brownback

NPR reports on the Kansas legislature putting Governor Sam Brownback in his place after his failed experiment in governing without money. Turns out, you can’t run government without revenue. The Kansas Supreme Court has already ruled the schools there are woefully underfunded and is requiring the legislature to pony up the funds necessary to properly run schools.

Despite the struggles of schools and a massive deficit, Brownback had vetoed a revenue bill. Fortunately, the legislature overrode the veto. Here’s more:

…the state was facing a billion-dollar deficit over the next two years until last night. That’s when lawmakers overrode Brownback’s veto of a tax plan, championed by moderate Republicans and Democrats.

Who knew you couldn’t run schools or provide government services without money? Well, the Democrats in Kansas, for one. Not a single legislative Democrat in Kansas voted for the 2012 Brownback tax plan.

Despite the veto override, it’s still not clear what will happen with school funding:

The state Supreme Court has strongly suggested lawmakers spend more on education. A bill that would add almost 300 million new dollars into schools is still on Brownback’s desk. Lawmakers are waiting to see if Brownback will sign the bill or if that’s even enough money to pass constitutional muster.

Brownback’s 5 year experiment in starving government failed. It seems the politicians who voted to curb revenue were not willing to cut services by enough to offset the lost funds. Well, except for schools. It was totally fine to cut funds from schools. They’ve got plenty of money, anyway.

Why don’t our state leaders support our schools? Arizona is lowering standards (and pay) for teachers. Oklahoma faces a school funding crisis of the legislature’s making. Tennessee has record budget surpluses but still dramatically under-funds schools.

Investments in schools benefit entire communities, entire states, even. An educated populace drives economic development and increases the tax base. Refusing to fund schools sends a message to students: You don’t matter. Your future isn’t important.

It’s long past time to turn this message around. To say that schools matter. That funding for schools is a top priority. That our communities depend on thriving schools. Which cost money — that we are willing to spend because there’s nothing more important than a quality education for all children.

The news out of Kansas is encouraging. But it’s only a start.

For more on education politics and policy, follow @TheAndySpears



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