Former chairman blames warped legislation for resignation

STEPPING DOWN: Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, resigned his post as Appropriations Committee chair after he could no longer support the evolving form of school funding legislation.

By Travis Perry│Kansas Watchdog

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — Newton Republican Rep. Marc Rhoades blames the distortion of education funding legislation for his sudden resignation Monday as chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

While neither Rhoades nor House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, had much to say on the topic immediately following the announcement, the Harvey County representative penned a blog post Tuesday outlining the motives behind his action.

In it, the representative wrote that he could no longer support a bill addressing the Kansas Supreme Court’s early March ruling on school funding after legislative backlash removed several provisions tying funding levels to performance standards and boosting charter schools in Kansas.

“By (March 24), HB 2774 had become something substantially different from just the original bill minus the two policy pieces,” Rhoades wrote. “Throughout the process, I was very upfront that if the bill continued to slide toward becoming a huge spend with no correlation to improved educational outcomes, I wouldn’t be able to support it.”

While the high court ruling didn’t specify a dollar amount with regard to school funding adequacy and equity, Rhoades said he believed the education establishment would only tolerate high levels of new spending moving forward at an unsustainable rate.

“In its present form, it is a bill without measurable educational outcomes to show for the high levels of spending,” Rhoades wrote. “Why? Because it’s an election year.”

Rhoades’ resignation certainly begs the question of why, after only three years, would he choose to give up a position of considerable influence instead of leveraging the role to affect change? Jinny Iserhardt, vice chair of the Harvey County Republican Party, said Rhoades has garnered strong support for sticking to his guns.

“I don’t know all the details about what was going on, so I can’t totally speak about (the resignation) for that reason, but we do believe he is a man of principle,” Iserhardt told Kansas Watchdog. “We hear him affirming that almost every time we listen to him speak. We understand even more that he operates out of a set of core values.”

“More money doesn’t solve any problems, you have to figure out what the outcomes are you want and you have to figure out how to get them, and it’s not always money,” Iserhardt said. “If the resignation has to do with taxpayer dollars being spent unwisely, and not tied to outcomes, then we support him on that.”

Related: KS Supreme Court: Legislators made ‘unconstitutional’ school funding choices

Contact Travis Perry at travis@kansaswatchdog.org, or follow him on Twitter at @muckraker62. Like Watchdog.org? Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state!

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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