In a strong showing of support for Kansas public schools, a large majority of State Senators today demanded an end to attacks on public education while announcing the introduction of a series of bills designed to empower teachers as professionals.
The chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee introduced a bill to adjust school funding upwards to make up for years of neglect. The “Keeping Our Word Act” would raise funding enough to cover all inflationary increases since the school finance system went into effect in 1992. Saying, “It’s about time!” 37 members of the 40-member Senate immediately signed on as co-sponsors.
Among the other bills introduced today is the restoration of due process rights for teachers. One Senator said, “What were we thinking when we repealed this law in 2014? This is not job protection, it’s voice protection! Our teachers need to be empowered to advocate for their students.”
Other issues in what is already being called the “Senate Epiphany” include the expansion of Medicaid to keep rural hospitals open, a constitutional amendment prohibiting the raiding of the Highway Fund or KPERS to pay state debts, returning 330,000 businesses back to the income tax rolls, and automatic voter registration for all Kansas residents.
“Frankly,” one Senator told us, “we must have been nuts with all those voter suppression bills we passed. We need to encourage voting, not put up roadblocks!”
Returning to a common-sense, balanced three-legged stool of taxes will quickly reverse the disastrous tax policies put in place in 2012. “I wish we had done this sooner,” said the Governor.
We Can Dream, Can’t We?
Yes, we can dream but why would we if we could instead make that dream a reality?
The only thing standing between a state legislature that supports schools and communities and the current reality is the 2016 election.
There will be a lot to do this summer and fall when every Kansas Representative and Senator is up for re-election. Many have challengers. As the season moves forward, we will be letting you know who wants to return, who has decided to retire, and who the challengers are.
KNEA members should pay careful attention to these elections and consider joining the effort to re-elect some and retire others. Take your civic responsibility seriously. Together we can have the Kansas we can only dream about right now.
Let’s all commit to making Kansas better.