Where it this going?
Well, the Kansas Supreme Court has held that Gov. Laura Kelly has authority – or more accurately that the Kansas Legislature didn’t use properly the authority it handed its leadership committee – to prohibit church gatherings of more than 10 constituents, er, congregants.
Practically, it didn’t have much effect, that high court ruling. Most of the state is staying at home as the governor wants and only a handful of churches, waving the banner of freedom of religious exercise, drew bigger crowds of congregants to Easter services which in past years have been among the largest events held by churches.
But…that Supreme Court ruling was almost a distraction to the business of state government in the coming weeks and months.
Yes, the high court, in a decision released too late for headlines in the Easter Sunday newspapers, made a decision that while technically and legally correct probably is going to force the Kansas Legislature into not only reconvening this spring but also having to deal with the real political issues that most aren’t very interested in during this election year.
First…lawmakers and the governor don’t know how much money they are going to have in order to meet the needs, some new needs that weren’t even considered before the coronavirus/Spring Break.
Oh, there’s going to be that Consensus Revenue Estimate (CRE) that will be released April 20 that is the official verdict on just how much money the state is going to receive from taxpayers for the remainder of this fiscal year (ends June 30) and for the coming fiscal year.
Already, the big dogs in the Statehouse are wondering just how big the asterisk on that final estimate is going to be. The entire Kansas economy has been redrawn due to the coronavirus which has closed thousands of businesses, led to tens of thousands of job losses and reduced the money Kansans will have to buy food and make rent and mortgage and car payments. And for those Kansans still working, there aren’t many places besides grocery stores, liquor stores and gun stores to spend that money to generate sales tax revenues.
That’s less money for the state and less money for local units of government that receive large portions of their revenues from sales taxes. Oh, and removing that revenue source from sales taxes means that the only other substantial revenue source for local units of government is property taxes. Raise those taxes to keep the water plant and the police and fire departments running?
That’ll make the protests of the church congregation limits wane.
And this stay-home issue that led Gov. Laura Kelly to close schools? Well, besides kids studying at home over their computers, it also is going to focus attention to just what that shut down of schools cost and weighing those home-school kids’ educational progress. And, don’t forget to consider what happens to the social skills that kids learn at school. There’s a value there, just no pricetag…
Will the children who are on-line during the school day show that they’ve actually learned? Will there be testing to find out whether that remote study is effective? And if the kids do well in intellectual progress, will some lawmakers – and property taxpayers – consider that on-line teaching is cheaper than the usual schoolhouse teaching? Gotta wonder which way that spending issues goes, don’t we…?
And there are going to be legislators who wonder just what isn’t getting done with the dispersion from state office buildings to kitchen tables thousands of state and local government workers.
The entire issue of what government does for us who pay for it looms.
Yes, the effect on government is bigger than just reducing crowds in church pews.
Who knows where this is going?