Sales tax – Gov. Sam Brownback says he hasn’t made up his mind whether to try to extend part of the statewide sales tax scheduled to expire July 1, 2013, to help balance the state budget. The governor is considering the option because he’s not certain how strapped for funds the state might be as a result of massive income-tax cuts he pushed through the Legislature earlier this year. He’s indicated that if the state needs the revenue, he could seek to extend the tax. A vastly better option would be for the governor and Legislature to acknowledge that they overreached with their income-tax cuts and to pare them back enough to ensure that the state has adequate revenue to meet its needs without extending the sales tax.
School audit – Gov. Sam Brownback thinks more savings could be wrung out of the state’s public schools, and he has appointed an “efficiency task force” to find them. Curiously, none of the 10 members works in a school. Intended or not, the exclusion of practicing educators comes across as a show of disrespect for the people in the trenches who understand what resources are necessary to educate the children of Kansas. Once again, Brownback has shown he will heavy-handedly wield the state’s authority over local communities even as he decries the idea that the federal government should have a say in what goes on in the states.
Kansas City Star
Gambling fund – The Problem Gambling and Addictions Grant Fund is financed through a 2 percent surcharge on legal gambling revenue and is to be used to help people with gambling, alcohol and other addiction problems. Some of the money has been used to help people with addictions, but much more has been diverted to other purposes. The current budget allocated $740,000 of the addictions funding for its intended purpose but allocated $6.5 million of the funds for other services. The state is raising a lot of money, through gambling, to help people fight addictions. We should be able to find sufficient worthwhile programs to support with that funding.
Open carry – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has undermined faith in attorney general opinions with his interpretation of state law on the authority of cities and counties to regulate guns. Schmidt’s office determined in December that a city “may not completely prohibit the open carry of a loaded firearm on one’s person.” That prompted city councils in Wichita and Overland Park to revise their ordinances to allow residents to carry guns openly. Attorney general opinions are commonly relied on to interpret and clarify state laws. As in this case, they may identify a need for the Legislature to revisit a law to clarify or make language more precise. But when an AG issues an opinion that appears to be out of the bounds of common sense, it is not surprising that some people will begin to consider such opinions as having little authority.
Planned Parenthood – It is ridiculous to punish Planned Parenthood, which at some locations provides abortions paid for with private money, by taking away federal funds that pay for mammograms, pelvic exams and other health services intended to prevent cancer and other diseases. Why are lawmakers in Topeka even considering cutting off federal funds?
Winfield Daily Courier