While most Kansans were sleeping, the House Tuesday night shot down the latest, much-needed tax increase plan. So the status quo reigns, with no annual budget and no way to properly fund public schools.
This chaos is brought to you by incompetent Gov. Sam Brownback plus a leaderless Legislature that includes too many spineless politicians, all thanks to Sunflower State voters.
They helped create the current huge mess in Topeka, where Wednesday will be day 103 of a 2017 session that has failed to provide stable funding for crucial public services.
Voters first chose an overwhelmingly ultra-conservative bunch of GOP lawmakers in 2010 and 2012. Then, despite clear evidence in 2014 that Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012 income tax cuts already were reckless financial flops, voters re-elected him.
In a positive move, voters in 2016 sent some moderate Republicans and even a few more Democrats to the capital.
But now that no side has a clear majority, the GOP factions and Democrats can’t find enough common ground to pass higher income taxes required to properly serve 3 million Kansans.
The lawmakers sometimes take steps in that direction and Brownback vetoes them or, as in Tuesday night, can’t even get that far.
As moderate Republican Stephanie Clayton of Overland Park sagely observed after Tuesday’s machinations:
This is why everybody hates us. #ksleg
— ❄️Stephanie Clayton❄ (@SSCJoCoKs) May 31, 2017
Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita has been particularly pathetic in realizing her personal political ambitions (she may run for Congress in a conservative district) are not more important than her current job. She and Majority Leader Jim Denning of Overland Park must do better in the remaining days of the session — however long it lasts.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Ron Ryckman of Olathe has failed to shake off his ultra-con views on taxes long enough to help put together the kind of package needed to fully fund government.
Kansans are left in Brownbackistan, a state in meltdown mode, which can’t tax itself enough to provide good schools, roads, social services or public pensions.
It’s a sad, sad state to be in.
Looking ahead, voters in 2018 must send more responsible, more progressive Republicans and Democrats to Topeka.
Let’s just hope Kansas can survive that long.