A great example where hell-raising stopped the stampede was the legislation designed to move supervision of the state’s education finances from the Kansas Department of Education to the executive branch under the Office of Administration, a power grab of major proportions. Whether the fact that it’s an election year helped or not, the point is: the public, the press, and the experts spoke loud and clear. And this will be critical in the many important battles to come.
What made this particular example personal for me was the action taken to remove long-time expert on school finance, Dale Dennis, from participation on K-12 funding. Working out of the Department of Education, Dale has been—for many decades—the objective idea man and a supporter of constitutionally-solid school finance actions. I’ve known Dale starting with my legislative career in the 70’s and then through eight years as Governor working on school finance. He is clearly one of our all-time great career public servants whose talents have benefited public education in Kansas for many years. Though most Kansans would probably agree that his voice would be a valuable one to have in the conversation, he and other expert voices—such as the educators and administrators themselves—are often precisely the ones who are left out (or simply ignored) when considering how the state should proceed on these complex issues. From my point of view, this is where an informed and active citizenry can come into play. If elected officials don’t heed the many credible voices calling for a change of course, it’s up to the people of Kansas to raise the volume and raise the heat on those elected officials.
In order for it to translate to real change, an active response from the grassroots—the hell raising—has to be the beginning of a sustained, organized effort to make fundamental change in our Kansas Government. With the entire legislature up for election—and the voting records clearly identifying those who backed the administration’s plans openly available—there is no excuse for the 70% plus of Kansans who are upset with the Governor not to throw out his partners in crime. Consistent with our founding and the power of We the People, it will take the support of citizens who are working hard to educate their neighbors and get them out to vote for quality candidates committed to leading us out of the wilderness and “To the Stars through Difficulties.”