School spending transparency: Oklahoma leads the way.
In Kansas, over half of Kansas state budget is spent on our under-performing K-12 schools. Currently, the state-wide average is $12,000 spent per student. And nobody knows where the money goes.
The problem is bi-partisan. Democratic teachers unions don’t want the public to know where the money is going, and neither do the self-centered Republican “moderates” who represent local school boards, and who are primarily interested in protecting their own reputations. Look no further than Johnson County Republican Party Chairman Ronnie Metsker, whose wife is a Shawnee Mission School District elected board member. The Metskers have done nothing for spending transparency at Shawnee Mission, they’ve spent millions just on taxpayer-funded lobbying, they won’t sign my PAC’s Budget Transparency Pledge, and they give a no-bid contract to a Democratic lawyer named Curt Tideman. Curt Tideman’s hand-picked choice among his law partners to represent Johnson County Community College is a deeply-unethical lawyer named Mark Ferguson (who still is the lawyer for JCCC, but who later changed law firms and joined the firm of Larry Gates, the Kansas Democratic Party chairman). Ferguson not only didn’t understand the law — he publicly announced on TV the wrong interpretation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act — but he has participated in the cover-ups of at least one First Amendment violation, at least one Kansas Open Meetings Act violation, and the likely-accurate sexual harassment allegations toward former President Charles Carlsen.
Oklahoma is leading the way for reform. Here is Americans for Tax Reform, at its Center for Fiscal Responsibility:
Earlier this week, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry signed Senator Brogden’s bill, SB 1633, into law, which requires the state Department of Education to post all school district expenditures on its website. Thanks to efforts by groups such as Oklahomans for Reponsible Government, which published aBlueprint for Transparency guide to urge legislators to support local transparency, taxpayers will be able to see how their school districts are spending their money. This is a step CFA has advocated for in all states – not only should taxpayers be able to access how their state spends money, but expenditures should be accessible, dollar for dollar, down to the local level as well. Congratulations Oklahomans!
Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Kansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).