June 24, 2005
I’m trying to review my previous newsletter (TV, Special Session, silver lining) and figure out what I did right, so I can duplicate it! Your response was incredible and I am SO glad you liked my explanations, these are tough issues but I think they can be boiled down to a couple of basics we all learned in Civics 101. The most important thing to remember is there is a lawsuit at the base of all of this.
I’m begging you, please, please, please go to the Lenexa Barbeque Battle for me this weekend! What a great opportunity to support our community, eat some fantastic BBQ, and have a great time! If I were home, that’s where I would be, without a doubt.
If you’re lonely tonight and looking for some company, tune into the Kansas legislature as we debate the future of schools in Kansas. In fact, if you’re working in your yard tomorrow morning, cleaning your house tomorrow afternoon, or getting ready for church Sunday morning, you can tune in. We have already been warned to head to the local retail stores and prepare to be here at least until Sunday evening.
House or Senate can both be reached via this website:
Although I may sound cynical at times, and sometimes that comes off as negative, I am actually very excited about this year’s outcomes. For the first time in my legislative career, schools are finally going to get the funding we’ve been clamoring for for years. The rhetoric around here and basic disregard for the law does get my goat sometimes, but my cynicism is generally meant to give you a giggle at the ironies I see. As the saying goes, you can laugh or cry, and I choose the former...
Here’s what things look like so far:
There have been a couple of Constitutional amendments batted around, but nothing for debate now. Those include:
Direct election of Supreme Court Justices (I wish I were kidding)
Prohibiting the Court from appropriating funds
Prohibiting the Court from closing schools
The Senate passed a $160 million bill, SB 3, that had some good and some bad things in it. Unfortunately, the House will never see that bill because the House Select Committee on Education gutted the bill, providing schools with only $11 million for schools, plus the "suitability" provisions in the dreaded SB 181 from earlier in the year. There was plenty of bad stuff included in that bill that 92 people made a strong showing in killing the bill just moments ago. Click here for a summary of the bill.
What happens now? The committee has to work harder to include provisions we (92 legislators) will support. It is pretty difficult at this point to come to a middle ground because we are split between people who want to defy the court and do nothing, then prevent the courts from closing schools, even though they do nothing, and then people who think if we submit less than the $143 million required by the court, that we end up back in this same position after July 1st.
When half the legislature is not willing to spend more than $0 and wants to thumb their nose at the Court, and the other half is not willing to spend less than $130 million, do the job and go home, that’s quite a chasm to cover.
I will keep you updated throughout the weekend, but at this point, we just had the most exciting two minutes of the past three days, so there just wasn’t much to update until now!
Rest assured, we are continuing to meet to determine the best outcome for Shawnee Mission students, parents, and patrons. Our district is unique in Johnson County, and we must keep that in mind in these deliberations. A plan that is good for all Kansans, but leaves SMSD out, is inherently not good for all Kansans.
In your service,
Rep. Stephanie Sharp