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SPOTLIGHT
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Double the expense

Published on -6/22/2012, 10:30 AM

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It is time to pay the piper for the folly that passed as the Kansas Legislature's attempt to redraw political boundaries this past session.

Almost $662,000 in attorneys' fees and other incidental expenses have been turned in for payment from parties involved in the federal lawsuit. Unless Secretary of State Kris Kobach or Attorney General Derek Schmidt can convince the court the bills are "expensive," as Kobach called them, Kansas taxpayers will be on the hook for these fees.

"We will strongly urge the court not to award any attorneys' fees," Kobach said. "It would be a real disservice to Kansas taxpayers."

We couldn't agree more with the secretary. Yet we doubt he'll have any luck with his plea.

Legislators knew this was going to be a costly legal battle. After moderates and conservatives spent the entire session attempting to gerrymander federal and state district boundaries to their own advantage, they gave up. Instead of finding compromise to fulfill their constitutionally required duty, they tossed it to a three-judge panel to accomplish. Along the way, various proposals to earmark dollars to pay for that service were discussed. The figures ranged from $200,000 to $1 million.

But much like their failed redistricting attempts, lawmakers couldn't agree on a specific amount to set aside.

"This was foreseeable, particularly after the dog pile of plaintiffs who joined the lawsuit," Schmidt said.

That dog pile will be paid. It represented the various factions who couldn't find agreement in the Statehouse. The attorney general said using tax dollars to pay for the attorneys amounted to "double billing" since legislators already were paid to do the job.

The problem was lawmakers didn't do their job. So, just like that, the half-million-dollar surplus Gov. Sam Brownback has been boasting about will be gone. And then some.

Kansas taxpayers were hosed every step of this arduous process. We can only hope voters remember this during the upcoming elections, when every seat of the Kansas Legislature is up for grabs.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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