Dr. Steve Scott is doing the best he can in the worst of times to steady the PSU ship of state, and to keep the ship sailing forward, without taking on water.
Dr. Steve Scott is doing the best he can in the worst of times to steady the PSU ship of state, and to keep the ship sailing forward, without taking on water. It is a tough task to sail against the wind. In this case, the gale force winds are coming from Topeka. The first weather front was created last year when Governor Brownback forced through a budget that amounted to a bucket with a huge hole in it. This year, the Legislators are trying to fill that hole, while they continue to cut the obligations of the more affluent among us.
Frankly, none of this makes sense. The pressure will now be on local legislators to keep the sales tax increase which was supposed to sunset this year, since without it, there is no way to keep PSU and other schools from the cuts, and Brownback has been lionized as a friend of the University because he proposed a flat no increase budget. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
I was at a forum recently where President Scott valiantly, if only half heartedly, commended the Governor as a friend of higher education. That is the kind of thing Scott would be expected to say. After all, Brownback is basically his boss. The problem is that this characterization of the Governor is simply inaccurate by any objective standard. The fact that Brownback has pledged to put the university at the back of the guillotine line is hardly the basis for kudos or commendations. A reprieve is just that...a reprieve. The chopping block still awaits, and as much as Brownback is trying to stave off the worst consequences of his own irresponsible budgeteering, his legislative colleagues do not appear to be following his lead. They are proposing either two or four percent cuts in university funding. After all, who in their right mind will follow the recommendations of a Governor with only a 37% approval rating. But all of this begs the bigger question.
Who will stand up to this Governor and say that there is a self inflicted and avoidable form of cancer being foisted upon the body politic of Kansas. I understand that this is not the role any sane University President can assume, but this cancer is self defeating, self sustaining, and metastasizing rapidly. Who will try to stop it? Who will find the cure? Who among us will find the courage to stand up to the bully and stop feeding the beast?
The current state of the government in Kansas is curious, indeed. The State Senate has been taken over by the Governor's like minded minions, and the State House of Representatives was already in the firm grasp of the anti government cultists and Super trickle down economics believers. Now the Governor is trying, not so subtly, to take control of the courts, which would be a political hat trick that would leave only one agenda dominant, to wit: his.
Page 2 of 2 - Kansans are so polite, however, that columnists, editorial pages, and even citizens at public forums are failing to sound the storm warning sirens loudly enough. The whole "Let's make Kansas Texas " movement is based on a faulty model, and, in time Kansans will learn how faulty it is.
In the meantime, the opponents of this agenda need to organize a coalition of the concerned...Democrats, moderate and reason based Republicans, Independents, educators, and working class citizens needs to be organized and empowered to stand up to the agenda being funded and foisted upon Kansas by the brothers Koch and their affiliated political action groups, before real serious damage is done to Kansas' public institutions, infrastructure, and middle class culture.
In my experience, the only way to resist that which is fundamentally wrong is to resist it. To fight it at every turn. To speak truth to power. To stand up to the bullies. Only by evidencing courage will Kansans find their way out of this self inflicted budgetary imbroglio. Time to get organized and to tell the Emperor he has no clothes on. Time to say, get dressed Governor , and start to govern , not ungovern! If not, come 2014, you will become the Un-Governor yourself!
John Sullivan is a teacher at Pittsburg State and Missouri Southern State. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the universities he works for or the Morning Sun.