Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): A Bad Plan

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Bad Plan

Michael Mahoney, a TV guy, writes (and probably talks on video--TLDNW) that there's a legislative plan to fix school funding.

The plan, which I am assuming is a House plan, would cut every district by ½ a percent. Thus ends the only part of the plan that I can potentially support.

For the love of all things holy, there’s only so much money in the Kansas budget--all of which was taken from taxpayers at the point of a gun I remind you--and if we want roads, services to the less fortunate, assistance for the elderly, the Kansas Highway Patrol, the National Guard, we can’t give all of it to the greedsters known as the public school lobby.

According to Mahoney, the plan would also use money from the tobacco settlement and cut money from the extraordinary needs fund, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program and an online school fund. (Can TANF money be used for anything OTHER than TANF? Asking for a friend.)

There’s so much to hate here that I’m having trouble deciding where to start. Head to your safe spaces, friends, because I have nothing nice left to say.

First, let’s talk about that tobacco settlement fund. It’s bad public policy to use one-time money to fund ongoing operations. Once the tobacco money is gone, I’m pretty sure schools are going to continue expecting cash. Down that road leads a tax increase. (That’s the entire point of this exercise, as I told you yesterday.)

There is one bright spot in using tobacco settlement money. This requires firing up the Way Back Machine, all the way back to 1999. Britney Spears was burning up the charts with “Baby One More Time,” jelly shoes and overalls were popular, and in Kansas, Bill Graves was piloting the  U.S.S. Kansas into choppy, ice filled waters.

That was also the year ambulance chasers won a $1.6 billion settlement with tobacco companies, and Kansas was awarded a $131 million cut of it. Thank you, smokers! What followed was an epic display of so-called children’s advocacy organizations acting like buzzards fighting over a carcass. These are liberal-leaning groups like Kansas Action for Children, whose stated purpose is FOR THE CHILDREN, which really means, give us tax money so we can advocate for more money. These are some of the same groups screaming that the state of Kansas (aka Johnson County) needs to put more money into giving Wichita property owners ad valorem tax breaks FOR THE CHILDREN. It would be a pretty rich irony if Kansas used money that was to go to them to solve the non-problem they helped create.

I remain #TeamCalltheCourt’sBluff. Guys, we can’t continue down this road. It’s time to play the long game. If you’re casting a vote based on what happens on Aug. 2 or even what happens on the first day of school, you’re doing it wrong. Acquiescing to the demands of a Court determined to make life difficult for conservatives is a terrible plan for the future. If legislators allow this to continue, it’s only a matter of time before someone sues the state on the Kansas Department of Transportation’s behalf, demanding more money. And then, someone sues on the Department of Whatever’s behalf, demanding more money. And the cycle continues. How do Kansans survive the onslaught of tax hikes? Do we become Detroit, who managed to tax and spend itself into oblivion? Negotiating with hostage takers incentivizes hostage taking. It really is that simple.

Meanwhile, I’m absolutely sickened that this plan may be passed without even a nod to conservatives. Cutting online schools, Kansas’ only school choice provision? Not even voting on an unnecessary, but relevant Constitutional Amendment laying out expressly the Court’s ability to “close the schools.” (Seriously, I have yet to hear anyone explain how that works. The Court is just going to waive some papers around and stamp their feet saying schools are closed. It’s so laughable. I can’t believe anyone is taking that threat seriously. Seriously!)

Someone tell me why conservatives should even bother going to the polls on Aug. 2 or in November if winning means losing. Consistently. Constantly. Already, I’m not voting in many races that will appear on my ballot. I can’t vote for the presidency--barring something dramatic in Cleveland (oh, pretty please!). And I can’t vote in local races for reasons I would’ve once listed here, but thanks Tyler Longbine I won’t. The only question on my ballot that I’ll for sure mark at this point is against retaining members of Kansas’ kangaroo court.

The people have checked out completely, and apparently, so have most legislators and the Governor’s Office. (And here’s where I’ll say something nice about the Governor: Guys, be kind to the man. Clearly, he needs your encouragement. Say what you must on doorsteps, but privately, give him a hug. His wells of inner strength appear to be fairly shallow, but you have the power to add some water to that well. Do it for the good of the state.)

At this point, everything is hyperbole. No one’s crystal ball can say for certain how the majority of Kansans or conservatives will react on anything that happens in the next few days. I really wish we’d get the opportunity to see how the people would react if legislators called the Court’s bluff. Unfortunately, my crystal ball says that’s not in the cards.

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