Archive for Thursday, January 29, 2009

State bond proposal could do damage long past recession

January 29, 2009

With the country in an ever deepening recession and the state facing a financial crisis, budget cuts are a reality and there is no spending category or program that won’t see reductions.

Cuts are inevitable. Some will surely be harsh. But it should be a commitment of Kansas legislators that they should be fair and that they cause a minimum of lasting harm beyond the current hard times.

We think the proposal to back the state out of its commitment to contribute to bond and interest payments for existing school bond issues flunks those standards. A decision to end or suspend the state’s longtime program of helping support the unyet passed building programs of local school districts would be understandable with the recession, but the current proposal pulls the rug out from under districts, like De Soto, which have passed bond issues in recent years. In so doing, it calls into question if those school districts can deliver on the promises made to voters during bond referendum campaigns of the cost of building programs or their contents.

The change might save the state money in a time of crisis, but it could do long-term damage to the credibility of local boards and administrators forced to either raise mill levies more than vowed or leave out promised facilities. That, in turn, could harm the chances of future needed bond issues because we have noted over the years that voters have long memories of past bond promises.

Apparently there are legislators not bothered by reneging on their promises to provide local districts with money for new schools, but we would hope the prospect of harming the reputations of others and the knowledge that could cause damage years in the future would deter their support for the proposal.

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