Two-year budget – In the education realm, support for two-year budgeting appears to be fairly widespread. Gov. Sam Brownback’s school-efficiency task force proposes such a change, and the Kansas National Education Association is in favor. The Kansas Association of School Boards also has heard interest from members. One concern, however, is the possibility that two-year funding levels, rather than being a guaranteed minimum, could be subject to cuts as state revenues fluctuate, defeating the long-range planning benefits.
Higher ed – In September the Kansas Board of Regents sent Gov. Sam Brownback a budget that included an increase of about 6.2 percent, including a 1 percent pay increase for the state’s 18,000 university employees. Brownback’s budget office took the opposite approach and recommended an 8 percent reduction in funding for higher education. The regents and university officials must be proactive in pushing for the overall funding that keeps their institutions viable. They need to get to work and sell their important product both to the governor and state legislators.
Drought – Discussions on how to deal with ongoing drought are common, naturally, and usually center on farming. Agriculture does indeed sap the most water from the Ogallala Aquifer as area farmers do their best to grow crops. But scrutiny of water use has to extend beyond farm fields. Water pulled from the aquifer also goes to homes, businesses and industries, and for such recreational opportunities as parks and golf courses. The trick is in finding the proper balance between water conservation and economic growth. It’s a complex problem that should be tackled from many angles.
Garden City Telegram
Huelskamp – After being booted from two key committee assignments – weakening his state’s influence in the process – Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, demanded that House Speaker John Boehner give him an explanation and confirm rumor of a “secret scorecard” used to judge his voting record. He got that letter. In part, it said: “As has been made clear, there is no scorecard or any other single criteria used to determine committee assignments.” Huelskamp released the letter on his website, along with a statement – repeated in his weekly e-mail to constituents – that read: “With this letter, Speaker Boehner has confirmed a secret scorecard was used to punish conservative Republican congressmen.” Huh? Is Huelskamp just in denial or is he completely delusional?
Gun control – It is time for responsible gun owners to call on the leaders of the National Rifle Association to join the dialogue in search of a solution. In our opinion, priority should go to improving the enforcement of existing laws on background checks when gun sales take place. Those checks should be required at gun shows whether or not a licensed dealer is involved. A matter of equal priority is strengthening our mental health service system. Currently the state of Kansas is heading in the wrong direction, cutting grants and reducing support for community mental health centers like the one in Cowley County. This policy puts citizens, including children, at greater risk.
Winfield Daily Courier