Rail service – Wichita is free to pursue Heartland Flyer passenger rail service, but let’s get the Southwest Chief, which serves more towns in Kansas and whose route clearly offers more choices, on solid tracks first. The pursuit of the Heartland Flyer would make more sense if Kansas lacked passenger rail service altogether or the Southwest Chief route was beyond repair. But the tracks carrying the Southwest Chief are not broken. So fix them, maintain them, and then let’s assess Kansas’ needs for additional rail passenger service.
Welfare – It is hard to argue that dependence on welfare – or food stamps, or income-tax checks from the government – should not be a lifelong condition for the poor, working or not. But Gov. Sam Brownback’s oft-stated goal of lifting Kansas children out of poverty is drifting further away. His pie-in-the-sky, Arthur Laffer notion that state income-tax cuts can boom the Kansas economy and create thousands of jobs is all too close. The governor, in his State of the State message, should try to balance his objectives in a more realistic way. At the moment, he looks like a harsh, unfeeling head of state, with a tax-cutting ax wielded high over his head.
Winfield Daily Courier
It’s certainly reasonable to try to motivate people on welfare to get a job, but if, as the governor suggested, the arbitrary new job requirement is the primary reason that 9,000 Kansas children have been thrown into poverty, the state should reconsider its stand. Childhood poverty has many consequences, many of which will be costly to the state as those children grow up: problems in school, juvenile offenses, general lack of civic engagement and others. Whatever the state is saving now by cracking down on public assistance funding may cost it much more dearly in the years to come.
Reading – Reading is an essential skill, still. It always will be. That’s why we commend Gov. Sam Brownback for his insistence that steps must be taken to improve reading skills at the fourth-grade level. Studies have shown that students who can’t read proficiently at the fourth-grade level are more likely to become dropouts somewhere along the educational path and fail to complete high school. Whatever can be done to improve the reading skills of young students should be done, for the benefit of the students and Kansas.
Wind – The smart decision by Congress to extend a federal tax credit for wind power is encouraging news, particularly in Kansas. Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran had pushed to keep the tax credit as part of the “fiscal-cliff” negotiations. All three Republicans had to spend time battling fellow members of their party, especially in the U.S. House, who opposed the extension. As Brownback and others have correctly noted for months, clean and renewable wind power is a good investment in the state’s future. It creates jobs, reduces pollution and trims reliance on coal-fired power plants.
Kansas City Star