I have introduced a constitutional amendment (HCR 5011) which was created to help give a greater voice to all voters in Kansas. It does so by taking the currently very politicized act of redistricting and establishes an independent commission to make the process for the people, not for the party.
Our House District 29
A lot of people don’t really get to know their state districts so we wanted to give a breakdown of 29.
For the top three-fourths of the district, the northern border is 95th St, the western border is mostly highway 69, and the eastern border is mostly Metcalf Ave. The bottom fourth of the district gets a little trickier with the western border shifting over to Antioch Rd and the southern border ending in different places (the furthest south it gets is 132nd St).
Alongside all the residential areas, we have Corporate Woods, Rosana Square Shopping Center, and Brookridge Golf & Fitness. We have schools from both the Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission districts. We also have 12 city parks including Indian Creek Recreation Center, Indian Valley Park, and the Tomahawk Ridge Aquatic Center.
We think our district is pretty nice and we want to work to keep it that way.
“Kansas will be this hole in the ground. There will be yellow tape around it and you will drive up and stop and say, ‘Woah, I better not go into that hole’.” Kansas House Representative Valdenia Winn made this comment during a discussion about the direction Kansas is headed and how the rest of the country will feel about us.
And she is not the only one who worries about such a future for the Sunflower State. The increasing instability caused by the policies of Brownback and other extreme conservatives has led to many people avoiding our state all together.
Earlier this year, a teacher decided to leave Kansas for another state specifically due to the “uncertain situation” here. (http://shawneemissionpost.com/2022 /07/01/sm-east-gifted-teacher-cites-uncertain-situation-in-kansas-a-reason-for-move-from-district-51962) What’s sad is that she was actually working at the Shawnee Mission school district – one of the better districts – and she still did not feel comfortable enough to stay.
Recently, the business Pathfinder Health Innovations actually moved across the state line into Missouri because of what “Sam Brownback and his cronies” have done to the economy, education, and medical field – all areas which Pathfinder is concerned with. (http://www.startlandnews.com/2022 /06/ceo-kansas-politics-pushed-pathfinder-innovations-missouri/)
These two aren’t the only ones leaving either. United Van Lines is a moving company which recently shared its data showing that more people are leaving Kansas than coming in. (http://kmuw.org/post/study-more-people-are-leaving-kansas-moving) People can see that we are becoming that hole in the ground that Rep. Winn fears.
The nation has taken notice of Kansas’s ailments, especially since we were featured on a segment of Late Night with Seth Meyers where he focused on Brownback’s tax cuts and what that has done to the state budget. (http://shawneemissionpost.com/2022 /03/23/pulse-of-northeast-johnson-county-do-national-comedians-jabs-do-serious-damage-to-kansass-reputation-48604) Surely, no one saw that video and was eager to give Kansas a try.
But it’s not Seth’s fault; he was just pointing out the obvious. The fault lies with Brownback and the legislators who continue to support him. Legislators like House Representative James Todd who seems to put Brownback’s wants over Kansas’s needs. This election is our opportunity to turn things around for Kansas. To give our beautiful state a fighting chance for a future.
A Brief Breakdown of the 2022 School Funding Debacle
Concerns about Kansas’s education funding have been hanging around for decades. But it was the Gannon v. Kansas cases that reached the Kansas Supreme Court that finally brought about some action. The system adopted in 1992 used a formula to determine the annual funding for school districts. In early 2015, Governor Brownback scrapped this formula and replaced it with the now infamous block grant system. It was only supposed to be a temporary fix that gave legislators two years to come up with a better, more permanent funding formula. Whereas the old formula- according to Senate Minority leader Hensley- was equitable but underfunded, the block grant system was clearly inequitable and inadequate.
In February 2022 , the KS Supreme Court ruled that the block grant system was unconstitutional. In their ruling, the court gave the Legislature until June 30th to submit an equitable formula. If they could not meet the June 30th deadline, schools would be closed until a formula was approved. In late May, a formula passed Congress but was struck down by the Court. Certain legislators – generally conservative Republicans – claimed that the Court was holding children hostage and many said that we should ignore the order to shut down schools. Even talks of creating an amendment to limit the Supreme Court in this area were seriously circulated.
There are several problems with these reactions:
—Our legislators were already supposed to be working on a better formula; a year had passed since the block grant system was put in place and there was no evidence that any serious work had been done to create the new one. Our representatives should have been prepared to submit something, not complain about being pushed to do their job.
—The fact that some of the legislators called for people to ignore the Court or create an amendment to take away its power of enforcement is horrific. When our federal Constitution was written after our nation was founded, a system of checks and balances was created to hold the different branches responsible. These legislators were trying to undermine the power of the judicial branch in order to skirt their responsibilities.
—The aforementioned amendment could not have even passed in time to stop schools from closing this year. It would not have been voted on until November.
The funding problem was not fixed before Kansas Congress’s session ended so Brownback had to call a special session. Finally, on June 27th, our lawmakers passed a funding plan that Brownback signed. On June 28th, the Supreme Court accepted the plan.
Many are thankful that this issue was resolved in time so schools would not have their schedules disrupted. However, we must now look to the future as adequacy talks come to the front.
For a great article on this topic, go to:
For some specifics on where the school funds are coming from, go to:
Press Release: BRETT PARKER FILES FOR KANSAS STATE HOUSE RACE
TOPEKA, KS – Overland Park resident and Olathe school teacher Brett Parker filed a petition to be placed on the ballot for the Kansas House of Representatives 29th District. Parker, a Democrat, received an overwhelming number of signatures supporting his challenge to conservative Republican incumbent James Todd.
Parker, a native of Johnson County, said he was motivated to run for office after witnessing how the great work accomplished locally was being undone by current political leaders in Topeka. “I’m not a professional politician,” Parker said, “but watching our businesses, our hospitals, our schools, and our citizens in Johnson County struggle in the turbulent economic climate created by Gov. Brownback and Rep. Todd made me want to get more involved.”
Parker, an English language teacher at Countryside Elementary School and Pioneer Trail Middle School, has seen the direct effects of Governor Brownback’s failed tax experiment. “I’ve seen firsthand the impact of Brownback’s policies on the students and teachers in our district. In addition, businesses are struggling, employment is suffering and health care is at a crisis point. It’s time families in Overland Park had an ally, not an enemy, in the Kansas Legislature,” Parker said.
Parker said if elected, he would serve as a responsible, moderate voice for the 29th House district and the citizens of Kansas. “Voters deserve a representative who is respectful and responsive to their needs,” Parker said. “I will work collaboratively in the Legislature to pass bills that grow our economy, create jobs, and expand the tax base. This in turn will allow us to invest in critical areas such as education and infrastructure development. I will also ensure local control stays with our local governments.”
Parker’s opponent James Todd has been highly supportive of Governor Sam Brownback’s policies. Todd has voted with the super-conservative Brownback coalition more than 90% of the time including votes for the unconstitutionally low school funding, hiking sales taxes on working families, and consistently undermining the autonomy of local elected leaders in Overland Park.