One more blow?

It?s hard to keep up with efforts by Gov. Brownback and the conservative Repub?lican majority in the Legislature to undermine public education in Kansas in particular, and decimate rural communities in general.

One of the more recent examples is Senate Bill 499, which would require school districts to purchase certain items through the Kansas Department of Administration as a way to save state money on such things as education materials, motor fuel, food for children?s nutrition programs, natural gas for school buildings and materials used to repair or remodel school buildings.

The initiative is cast as way for the state to reduce spending in the light of ongoing revenue shortfalls. The bill, if passed, may reduce some expenditures, but the impact certainly would hurt almost every rural community in the state. Most rural school districts ?shop local first? as way to contribute to the financial stability of their supporting constituents. The loss of that revenue could be devastating.

It?s one more example of conservative urban lawmakers wanting to selfishly protect their lucrative property-tax revenues at the expense of the poorer, rural areas of the state.

This bill, and others like them, are among the 100 or so recommended by the firm Alvarez and Marsal?the ?efficiency experts? hired by the Legislature. Law?makers say the recommendations could result in $2 billion in savings for cash-strap?ped Kansas over five years.

But at what price?

This fall, all 40 seats in the Senate and all 125 seats in the House will be on the Nov. 8 ballot. It?s time to elect legislators who understand the benefit, and embrace the responsibility, to serve the best interests of all Kansans, not just the political ideologues of the rich and populous. ?DR

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