(Kansas Governor Sam Brownback)
While discussion around the nation has focused on North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom bill” – the governor-approved legislation barring trans people from using public bathrooms corresponding to their gender – another state has slipped under the radar with regard to its own anti-trans actions.
The Kansas state legislature concluded its 2016 legislative session on Wednesday, June 1 with a resolution opposing the Obama Administration’s federal guidelines stipulating restroom equality for transgender students in schools. Conspicuously absent from the legislature’s final priorities was the impending crisis facing the state’s struggling school system, which may not open for the coming school year pending a case before the state’s Supreme Court.
Kansas has struggled to pay for state services since its governor, Sam Brownback, has crusaded for zero income tax and other policies designed to slash government revenue in the name of small government. As a result, education inequality has worsened, resulting in a case brought by four poor school districts alleging that the state government has actively neglected lower-income students.
The state Supreme Court issued a demand that the government treat all districts equitably. In response, lawmakers effectively reshuffled funds without adding any revenue for school funding or fundamentally addressing the inequalities at the heart of the issue.
After all, with the continued implementation of the governor’s stridently anti-tax agenda, where could lawmakers possibly find the additional public dollars necessary for effectively dealing with the discrepancies in educational funding?
The court maintains that the funding system is unconstitutional and thus void, meaning that the entire state’s educational system is bereft of funding. If lawmakers do not successfully meet the court’s criteria for a just and equitably funded educational system, the state’s schools will not open for the next school year for want of a legally recognized framework.
Kansas consistently ranks among the bottom states for educational quality. With the highly partisan, bigoted shenanigans of today’s Kansas state legislature, that’s a very unsurprising fact.
What makes the present situation so infuriating is the insult to injury of the legislature’s anti-transgender resolution. How, in a period of turmoil in which the very basic rights of the state’s children are under threat, could elected officials prioritize state-persecution of a minority group?
That’s the question worth asking Kansas’ elected officials.