Senate President Susan Wagle announced her leadership picks on Wednesday, and as radio host Joseph Ashby wrote on his Facebook page: Susan Wagle of 2006 would not recognize Susan Wagle of 2016.
Sens. Carolyn McGinn and Vicki Schmidt have been restored to powerful chairmanships in the Kansas Senate. The pair apparently referred to themselves as the "Scarlet Letter Caucus," after they were replaced as committee chairs following the Republican wave election of 2012. There's a new Scarlet Letter Caucus in town.
Wagle sent a very clear message with her choices on Wednesday. The most outspoken conservatives were left in the cold. Returning Senators denied chairmanships were Sens. Steve Fitzgerald, Ty Masterson, Mary Pilcher-Cook, and Dennis Pyle.
McGinn will lead the budget committee, a committee she chaired under former Senate President Steve Morris' leadership. The irony is she was instrumental in negotiating the tax and budget plan now caught in the crossfire. The problem with that tax plan--now unfairly deemed the Brownback tax plan--is that legislators managed to negotiate out most of the pay-fors.
It's crazy to me how many of the people who voted for that 2012 tax plan get a complete pass from media and the general public while others get the leper treatment. I have no problem with someone saying yeah, I voted for this, and it was wrong--though I disagree with that assessment. But it's another thing completely to vote for it, negotiate the terms, and then blame everyone else for the plan. But that's where it appears we're at.
The folks in the Capitol building should start a discussion about consolidating school services. It would save money. Taxing our way to prosperity simply isn't going to work. I'm not going to kid myself that taxes aren't about to increase. However, if they increase without even a nod to spending efficiency, legislators are doing it wrong. They should consolidate districts, too, but that's about as likely as me winning the lottery while delivering septuplets. I am not going to hold my breath that school consolidation will happen (or even get a hearing), but hope springs eternal.
This entire session is going to be devoted to the budget, tax and school finance issues, but I am troubled as much or more by the appointment of Sen. Schmidt to the public health committee. Schmidt supports abortion in all forms, including dismemberment abortion. I worry that her appointment signals a willingness to return to Sebelius era policies on legalized infanticide. I hope I'm wrong.