Super majority no answer to state budget demands


February 3, 2010 - 12:00 AM

It was inevitable. Faced with a budget crunch that he and his fellow lawmakers refuse to deal with responsibly, Rep. Steve Brunk of Bel Aire wants a constitutional amendment that would arbitrarily limit spending increases to the rate of inflation and require a two-thirds vote of both houses to raise taxes.
This is akin to a mad man screaming, “Somebody stop me before I kill again!”
Our elected representatives should be more confident in their ability to govern the state without shackling themselves with undemocratic re-quirements for super majorities and artificial spending limits that prevent them from responding to the differing circumstances each year creates.
All any member of the Kansas Legislature needs to know about a two-thirds rule to raise taxes can be discovered by taking a long, hard look at California. California hasn’t had a balanced budget in years, is tens of billions of dollars in debt and has seen its public schools drop from first in the nation to among the worst. Two of its constitutional amendments are at least partly responsible: one requires two-thirds majorities to raise taxes; the other prevents increases in property taxes on homes until they sell. As a consequence, our largest state is on the cusp of becoming a failed state.
Kansas shouldn’t go there.
Instead, Kansans should elect representatives and senators who believe in majority rule and understand that one of their primary responsibilities is to raise enough money through taxation to pay the state’s bills; bills that include providing an adequate education for the state’s children and young adults and meeting the other needs of the people of Kansas that the state provides.
That’s what good government is all about.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.

N.B. To help Rep. Brunk understand how undemocratic — and how crippling — his proposal is, let him contemplate the political scene with a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority to win election to any office. Even in Republican Kansas, that would bring government to a screeching halt in a single election cycle.

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