Daily Archives: Jan. 13, 2013

School-funding lawsuits are common

Kansas isn’t the only state battling in court over its school funding. Nine other states (including Colorado and Texas) have school-funding lawsuits in the courts, and four other states recently wrapped up legal challenges, the Washington Post reported. Since 1973, when a U.S. Supreme Court case indicated that it was OK to challenge school-finance plans at the state level, all but five states – Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah – have had funding lawsuits. But winning a lawsuit does not necessarily result in more money, or consistent funding. The Kansas Legislature agreed to large funding increases in 2005 and 2006 after having lost a funding lawsuit. But because of funding cuts in recent years due to the economic downturn, the state’s education budget this fiscal year is 13 percent less when adjusted for inflation than it was in the 2007 school year, according to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities.

Grants will help struggling mental health centers

Good for Gov. Sam Brownback for wanting to add $10 million in funding to treat Kansas’ most serious cases of mental illness. The increase was prompted by the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but the mental health system in Kansas has been struggling for several years with reduced funding and increased demand. Though Medicaid spending has increased significantly in recent years, state grants to community mental health centers were cut by more than $19 million, or 52 percent, from fiscal years 2000 to 2011.

Roberts has seen worse times in Washington

“People ask me, ‘Is this the worst time you have served in Congress with approval ratings so low and the challenges so great?’ I say, no,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. Roberts served as a congressional staff member during the Vietnam War and Watergate, and he was a member of Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal and President Clinton’s impeachment hearings. “All these were terribly controversial,” Roberts said. “Somehow we found a way to do the nation’s business and do what’s right for the American future in regards to the economic future. That’s the thing that is missing now.” And he’s not optimistic that elected officials are nearing a path to accommodation, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. “I don’t see that happening any time soon,” he said.

So they said

“It’s not a long walk across the rotunda.” – House Speaker Ray Merrick (in photo), R-Stilwell, promising better communication and less conflict between chambers in the 2013 Legislature

“Given that you won’t have a situation where the House Republican leadership has declared war on the Senate Republican leadership, it can only get better.” – House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, on the upcoming session

“I have member after member after member say, ‘Agriculture? Let’s cut it.’ It’s going to be tough sledding, folks.” – Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., speaking to the Kansas Soybean Association about agriculture’s weakening political coalition in Congress

“We’re Kansans. We’re Americans. We want our steaks hot, our beers cold and our politicians – temporary.” – Milton Wolf, a radiologist and blogger who is President Obama’s cousin, in a Washington Times commentary criticizing Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran for their fiscal-cliff votes and combined 46 years in Washington, D.C.

“I bought a toilet at a local store lately and I’m telling you, you probably want to get off that thing before you flush it because it sucks anything down.” – Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Skelton, at Wednesday’s meeting, after Commissioner Karl Peterjohn expressed relief that he owns “a toilet that actually works”