The year that expired at midnight set new standards for political gridlock, homegrown terrorism and global thuggery. But 2014’s arrival renews hopes, including for uninhibited economic growth at the national, state and local levels. Here are three wishes for the next 12 months:
• For a big business recruitment or project that would bolster Wichita employment in a major and historic way. It could be winning part of Boeing’s 777X work or production of Textron AirLand’s Scorpion, or luring a corporate headquarters or major manufacturing plant to town – something “where we could create a thousand or 1,500 jobs, get our swagger back,” as Wayne Chambers, CEO of High Touch and chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, recently told The Eagle. The year also could be pivotal for Wichita’s future if City Hall decides to ask voters for a sales tax to fund an economic development war chest, a Century II convention center expansion, a better bus system, a new Central Library, and more. And may the wins continue for the Wichita State University men’s basketball team deep into conference play and the NCAA tournament.
• For responsible action by Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature on school finance and health care. Whatever the Kansas Supreme Court decides in the school-finance lawsuit, the state’s conservative leaders must avoid a constitutional crisis and fulfill their duty to fund K-12 schools suitably. And increasing KanCare eligibility, via the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion and full federal funding through 2016, will help Kansas hospitals and the state’s economy as it provides health care coverage to 169,000 uninsured Kansans. Brownback and state legislators also need to address insufficient funding for prisons, higher education, the court system and other budget areas, and repeal the proof-of-citizenship requirement that has suspended the voting rights of 19,000 Kansans.
• For bipartisan productivity and executive competence out of Washington, D.C. A good place to start would be with a farm bill, preferably one that balances the zeal to cut food stamps with the nation’s real and growing problems of hunger and poverty. The end-of-year budget agreement should lead to more decision making on the debt ceiling and deficit reduction, as well as to immigration and entitlement reform and certain funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan. It also would be a refreshing change if the six Kansas Republicans in Congress showed as much interest in passing legislation as they do in showcasing their conservatism and partisan outrage. Meanwhile, President Obama must rebuild public trust in his administration, recognizing the damage done by the ACA rollout and serial revelations about domestic surveillance.
Here’s hoping that Wichitans, Kansans and Americans will be able to look back on 2014 with gladness and gratitude. Happy New Year.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman