Medicaid – Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican state lawmakers are balking at expansion of the state’s Medicaid program. This despite the fact the federal government would pay the full cost for three years and after that Kansas would only have to pay 10 percent of it. Clearly, it’s the cruel politics of Brownback that keeps Kansas from accepting such support from Washington, D.C.
Prevailing wage – The latest anti-local bill is a somewhat sordid tale involving the bill’s supporter, Crossland Construction, a company that receives a fair amount of government building work and whose CEO also sits as chairman of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, and Senate President Susan Wagle, whose son-in-law is employed as Crossland’s lobbyist in Topeka. The House bill would ban local communities from requiring contractors who win government jobs to pay the prevailing local wage to their workers as part of the contract. There may be talk about small government in Topeka this year, but there’s nothing small about a government that has worked so tirelessly to wrest away local control from the voters and taxpayers of Kansas counties and cities.
Health clubs – What sounds like making things equitable sometimes in reality smacks of “special treatment.” A case in point is Senate Bill 72, a measure that would treat for-profit health clubs as if they were not-for-profit entities and exempt them from paying property taxes. For-profit health clubs don’t serve the same purpose or population as city-owned or nonprofit facilities, and they shouldn’t get the same tax exemptions.
By a 25-14 vote, Kansas senators agreed to eliminate property taxes for many of the state’s private gyms and health clubs. Seriously. The state that can’t figure out how to balance its budget after binging on income-tax cuts last session is now contemplating an additional tax break to a special group of businesses, at a cost of around $4 million a year. The move is another flagrant show of disregard for local governments and school districts, which would also lose property-tax dollars.
Kansas City Star
Right to know – Kansans have a right to know as much as possible about the people they elect to govern them. Yet of 165 legislators, only 57 – 12 senators and 45 representatives – responded to the survey by the Capital-Journal that asked lawmakers if their K-12 education had been through public, private or charter schools or through home schooling. The survey also asked lawmakers what type of schooling they had placed their children in. Those are fair questions, especially given the educational issues legislators have been dealing with.
Common Core – When you’re blinded by suspicion and living in a heightened state of anxiety, black helicopters appear to be everywhere. The most recent example of this came at a legislative forum in Salina. Rep. Diana Dierks, R-Salina, said the effort to eradicate the state’s Common Core teaching standards was being led by people who were convinced that the standards were some type of new federal mandate (i.e., Obama takeover). The standards were developed and adopted by 46 states, cover 90 percent of all students, and were supported by Republican and Democratic governors. Adoption of the standards has been underway in Salina for 21/2 years. Common Core standards are a new way of preparing our children to succeed, not some nefarious federal mandate.