Kansas didn’t share in Tuesday’s re-election of President Obama, seeing its six electoral votes go to Republican Mitt Romney. If Obama’s win suggests a desire on American voters’ part to stick with the status quo, it also promises more debilitating partisanship. It could be a long four years.
Closer to home, the results were more in keeping with the past, and the conventional wisdom that voters were impatient for an economic rebound and tired of government overreach.
U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, won big in his first re-election bid, confirming that his constituents see the free-market fighter as a good fit for the 4th Congressional District and the times.
Wichita voters defeated water fluoridation again, tossing aside established science and the expertise of more than 533 local dental and medical professionals as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fluoridation’s opponents seemed to tap into voters’ concerns about big government and big water bills. But it was shocking to see so much junk and rumor passed off as credible science during the divisive campaign, and disappointing that Wichita passed on another opportunity to reduce its tooth decay and improve its oral health.
The legislative races proved anti-climactic in much of the state, confirming August’s conservative GOP takeover of the state Senate to add to its House control.
Even so, there was huge news Tuesday for state government: Revenue forecasters predicted the state will collect nearly $705 million less in fiscal 2014 than in 2013, mostly because of Gov. Sam Brownback’s historic tax cuts. Such a looming shortfall likely will force more funding cuts to education, social services and other state programs, which could lead to higher property taxes at the local level. And any chance that the temporary 2010 sales-tax increase actually will go away is fading, meaning a regressive tax could help finance a massive income-tax cut benefiting business owners.
Brownback’s faith may be “in the people of Kansas, not the government’s ability to tax and redistribute,” as he said when he signed the tax-cut bill in May. But the people of Kansas expect their governor and Legislature to properly and fairly fund schools and other priorities. Will they? Or will they use the shortfall that they created with their reckless tax cuts as the justification for reckless funding cuts?
Meanwhile, Tuesday was the second election in a row in which the Sedgwick County Election Office couldn’t deliver timely results. The large number of advance ballots and software problems reportedly slowed counting Tuesday. But there is no excuse for Sedgwick County to be hours behind much of the state in posting returns, and even behind the outcome of the presidential election. Secretary of State Kris Kobach needs to do what’s necessary to fix the problem.