The Dysfunction of Oz

The Kansas GOP is openly at war with itself and the state government is in meltdown.

US News & World Report, By Joseph P. Williams, June 5

When voters in Kansas tossed them the keys to the government in Topeka, the Republican-dominated Kansas legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback went all-in, enacting nearly every policy in the GOP playbook – from sweeping cuts in taxes and spending to aggressive new laws on the party’s favorite social issues, like abortion and gun rights.

Four years later, however, the state government is in meltdown, creating a toxic fiscal and political mess that will take years to mop up.

Splintered into conservative and far-right factions, the Kansas GOP is openly at war with itself over an $800 million, two-year budget deficit gnawed open by the tax cuts nobody wants to roll back. If they can’t fill the hole by week’s end – against long odds – furloughs of government employees will follow.

Then there’s the high-stakes showdown between lawmakers and the state Supreme Court over disparate funding between rich and poor school districts, an unfortunate development in the state that prompted the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case. The clash of political titans, spurred by power moves and score-settling, could trigger a constitutional crisis, and hinge on whether Republicans can fire the court and pack it with their allies.

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