Amtrak – It is not surprising but still disappointing that state officials in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico have informed Amtrak that they will contribute nothing to the upgrade of the track necessary to maintain the passenger rail line’s current Southwest Chief route. The affected regions and communities, however, shouldn’t give up the fight to keep the service. And they also should not let the state governments off with a free pass. They do have the money. They just haven’t made passenger rail a priority on par with roads, and that is extremely shortsighted.
When it comes to the Amtrak route, Kansas GOP Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts, along with Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, should acknowledge how the train offers affordable transportation that helps many people connect to other destinations. Unfortunately, ultraconservative Republicans haven’t shown much interest in Amtrak-related funding. They should know that this issue isn’t so much about support for the national passenger railroad system, but rather the potential loss to communities along the Southwest Chief route, Garden City included. With hopes of state funding dashed, federal lawmakers should acknowledge rural western Kansas’ need for viable transportation options, and push for funding to maintain the Southwest Chief route.
Garden City Telegram
Death penalty – Some criminal acts simply are too heinous to continue justifying that person’s mere existence. But it is obvious the death penalty system in Kansas needs some work. Actually, a lot of work, given the 100 percent conviction reversal rate of late. Why have taxpayers foot a 70 percent higher bill for a death penalty case if there isn’t a chance we’ll impose the penalty?
Hays Daily News
False claim – For one brief, shining moment, Gov. Sam Brownback appeared to be a profile in candor. He shrugged off the false claim that President Obama was dropping work requirements from the nation’s welfare program. Asked by a cable news program if he thought the allegation was wrong, Brownback replied, “As far as I have seen, but I don’t know all of the basis to it.” Alas, Brownback’s defection from the party line was fleeting. A spokeswoman said the governor “believes the Obama administration allowing states the ability to opt out of the very work requirements which have proven successful over the past 15 years is alarming.” We think Brownback’s ability to change his mind in the face of overwhelming evidence is alarming.
Kansas City Star
Pay raises – Even when the budget is tight, state officials in Kansas recognized a real need. A committee overseeing state employee pay recommended about $11.4 million in raises for underpaid state workers. The goal of the increases is to get pay levels for those employees closer to wages in the private sector. The pay raises recommended last week are a step in that direction.