Book smarts aren't everything, of course. But a new overview of the education levels of the more than 7,000 state legislators across the United States sheds some light on the quality of the decision making in Topeka and Jefferson City.
State lawmakers in Kansas and Missouri are not as well educated as legislators in other states, according to data published by The Chronicle of Higher Education. In the United States, 74.7 percent of state lawmakers have at least a bachelor's degree. In Kansas and Missouri, the numbers are 68.6 and 69.4 percent, respectively.
Kansas, in fact, ranks in the bottom five in terms of legislators who have at least some college experience.
Lawmakers who attended college tend to have done so in the state where they're now governing. This makes sense. It's not often, after all, that people in state government describe themselves as citizens of the world. In Kansas, 53 lawmakers attended either the University of Kansas or Kansas State University. Forty-one Missouri legislators went to Mizzou.
The most interesting bit of data may be found in a state to the north.
Steve Kraske, who covers politics at The Kansas City Star, recently wrote a piece in support of Nebraska's form of state government. The Cornhusker state is unique in that the legislative branch is not divided into two houses -- there's only one.
Proponents of the system say it's cheaper to operate and more efficient. It also apparently fosters a better educated membership. Nebraska trails only California and Virginia in terms of the ratio of legislators who have college degrees.
A scarcity of seats -- the Nebraska Legislature has only 49 members -- appears to favor the educated. New Hampshire, whose lower house has 400 (!) members, ranks 50th in the percentage of lawmakers who earned at least a bachelor's degree.