Re: Wyoming Legislature
Add my voice to those who are increasingly concerned about the lack of legislative leadership around education funding in the state. Our own Sen. Dave Kinskey, who represents the best school districts in Wyoming, is correct when he says we are facing a very difficult funding situation.
But his unwillingness to consider any option but funding cuts is short-sighted at best, and politically motivated at worst. Draconian cuts in our state’s ability to educate young people is akin to drilling a hole in the canoe that you will need to get home.
Wyoming has systemic funding and economic issues that have arisen out of global economic changes in the coal market and because the state failed to plan for this eventuality by developing new industry and opportunity. If we are going to create a better economic future, we need educated and prepared workers and entrepreneurs who are willing to invest in the state. This will only happen if we support Wyoming public education.
Some of our state’s leadership is taking clear-eyed, common sense approaches to education funding. Gov. Mead and many others including Rep. Mark Kinner have put forth strategies that help protect the core strengths of our state’s education system while still making difficult and painful funding cuts.
They acknowledge this is a short-term strategy to build a bridge to a better long-term solution, but it allows the state time to determine its best course forward. These are not “sound bite” solutions and will not be popular with everyone. But they are responsible and balanced. Sen. Kinskey also proposes further hijacking the school funding system with the Senate Joint Resolution 9 which limits constitutional court oversight of potential school funding issues promulgated by — you guessed it — the Legislature.
When I voted for Sen. Kinskey, I was optimistic that he would do his best to serve the legacy of the remarkable John Schiffer, who led Wyoming through many challenges and difficulties — always with thoughtfulness, respect and vision. Sen. Schiffer did not just represent his own political ambitions but instead made hard decisions that served the needs of the state. As I look at Sen. Kinskey’s record to date, I cannot help but wish we had Schiffer’s leadership now.