June 17, 2005
TV, parade, Special Session, myths/facts (or my belief thereof) much excitement to follow in this edition of the Sharp Record. Stay tuned for an up-and-down two weeks!
Personal Activities and Education
First, I NEED YOUR HELP! Because July 4th is a three-day
weekend this year, many people are out of town! I need your help
passing out goodies at the Lenexa Community Days Parade on
Monday, July 4th! As far as I'm concerned, you should never
stop campaigning, never stop asking for votes - it's annoying when
candidates only care about participating in events during election
years! SO - we will have an active parade entry again this year.
We will meet under the railroad bridge at 95th and Sante Fe at
9:30 am. You should park at the Senior Center, or in the lots south of
the fire station, because 95th is closed at Noland, then just walk to
meet us. Reply to let me know you and/or your kids can
Second, for you early birds, be sure to catch my segment on KMBC-9's morning show this Sunday from 7-9 a.m. KMBC is channel 12 for both Everest and Time Warner subscribers. I will be interviewed regarding the Supreme Court's decision on school finance (see below).
Personal Activities and Education
As you know, I will be returning to Topeka for a Special Session of
the legislature on June 22nd, to allocate an additional $143 million
for our schools. Thank you to the dozens of you that were concerned
about this interrupting my wedding - you are so sweet!
Fortunately, my wedding is planned for late July (the
announcement will be in this Sunday's paper), so the session just makes
me focus on something else other than wedding minutiae and looking
forward to a week in Jamaica. I'll definitely need that week by the
time the legislature is done. Heck, I could use it now!
Unfortunately, the timing is bad for another reason. I was scheduled to lead a bipartisan delegation of Kansas leaders to a program offered by my graduate school alma mater, George Washington University. The program, "Governing in the Global Age," trains state level leaders how to make their state a player on the international stage. Only seven states are chosen every year. Kansas was selected this year, and I was asked to lead the delegation. A handful of the delegation is not in the legislature, so they will participate, but myself, Representative Josh Svaty (Ellsworth), Lt. Gov. Moore, and Tracy Taylor, CEO of the KS Technology Enterprise Corporation, will be staying behind to vote, and in the latter two cases, to monitor what kind of hey the legislature surely will be making...
But, that is part of the deal - I truly enjoy serving and if it means we can improve the situation of our schools, I'm all for it. What I keep reminding teachers and parents is that schools WILL get help this year. There is a silver lining to all of this.
However, it has become very clear to me that there are many myths
circulating about the Supreme Court decision that I would like to
Myth #1: The Supreme Court acted randomly and out-of-turn on this bill, deciding Kansas schools needed more money.
Fact: This is not true. The Supreme Court responded specifically on a lawsuit currently pending before them, Montoy v. Kansas. The lawsuit alleges the state does not spend enough money on schools, and the State's arguments were not sufficient to convince the Court that current state funding is enough. Basically, the State lost a lawsuit.
Myth #2: The Court cannot tell us what to do, they are overstepping their bounds.
Fact: Are they? What I remember from high school civics is that the legislature makes the rules and the courts enforce them. From the Court's perspective, the Augenblick and Myers Study is the only measure we have of how much a suitable education costs. Whether we officially adopted it as the standard is neither here nor there. It is the only thing the Court has to go on - and as they see it, we're not following our own rules. Especially considering the lawsuit, I don't think the Court had a choice.
Myth #3: The legislature did not anticipate being given a specific amount to put into schools.
Fact: Again, not true. What was the alternative? We spent most of the last six months complaining about the lack of specific amount/direction from the Court. Everyone (especially the lawyers who claimed to predict the exact outcome) said the entire time that it was possible that the Court could come back and prescribe an amount, and now everyone is shocked to the point of claiming a "judicial coup d'etat". Please (including the incredulous eye-roll).
My take? When I raised my right hand in January of 2003 and again earlier this year, I swore to uphold the Kansas Constitution. Period. Article Six, in its entirety is most compelling:
§ 6: Finance.
(a) The legislature may levy a permanent tax for the use and benefit of state institutions of higher education and apportion among and appropriate the same to the several institutions, which levy, apportionment and appropriation shall continue until changed by statute. Further appropriation and other provision for finance of institutions of higher education may be made by the legislature.
(b) The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state. No tuition shall be charged for attendance at any public school to pupils required by law to attend such school, except such fees or supplemental charges as may be authorized by law. The legislature may authorize the state board of regents to establish tuition, fees and charges at institutions under its supervision.
(c) No religious sect or sects shall control any part of the public educational funds.
Yes, I voted for this bill the Court didn't like, because it was the best for my district. Not to mention there was no alternative. The makeup of the legislature this year is such that a tax increase package for schools didn't even come close to being considered - any way you count it, the votes just weren't there. Although recent revenue estimates have been very lucky for us, even if extra money hadn't been "found," I don't think the votes are there now, with a court order, as you have read my colleagues moaning in the papers and TV.
I have heard from a handful of you about this issue, although in these emails and on the news, I don't think people are aware of the lawsuit - this order is in response to a lawsuit, not a Court out of control and arbitrarily striking down legislative action.
Where's Waldo (Rep. Sharp)? June 3 - 17, 2005
(Besides session and committee meetings 9am - 5 pm)
- Old Shawnee Days parade
- Shawnee Mission Medical Center meeting on advanced directives
- Shawnee Mission School District meeting on school finance
- Jerry Magliano and Don Norwood meeting on KS Academy of Math and Science
- Lenexa Chamber of Commerce luncheon
- Shawnee Chamber of Commerce luncheon
Johnson County Statehouse Hotline! Call Topeka for free - 913-715-5000 and ask to speak with your Representative or Senator.
LIVE! House or Senate Chamber
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Please do not hesitate to reply to this newsletter if you have questions, concerns, or comments about these issues or others of importance to you. I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve you!
17th District, KS House
Serving Lenexa and Shawnee