Core services – The current cost-cutting efforts of state government should spur serious conversation about what Gov. Sam Brownback often calls “core government services.” Are some of the services being cut really not worthy of tax support, or is that rationale just a way of pushing more government responsibilities onto a different set of taxpayers at the local level? If a public health issue like monitoring sexually transmitted diseases in the state no longer is considered a “core government service,” it’s troubling to consider what other functions of government will soon be added to that list.
Roberts – U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is Kansas’ most experienced lawmaker. At age 77, the Republican has announced he will seek a fourth term in 2014. That is good news for Kansas because Roberts’ seniority can help Kansas, and especially Kansas agriculture, on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, the political climate in which Roberts is running has brought him to the point of pandering to the energetic, fringe right wing of his party in hopes of fending off a primary challenge. Perhaps the senator is wise to run fiercely to the far right; but if he wins, we have to wonder what kind of a senior statesman he can be.
Winfield Daily Courier
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Waiting lists – Good for Gov. Sam Brownback for proposing to boost funding for services for the developmentally disabled. The governor wants to push $18.5 million of an unexpected $60 million in savings from Medicaid into reducing the number of low-income people with disabilities who have qualified for services but can’t get them. That won’t eliminate the roughly 5,000 people on the waiting lists, but it will chop into that list and follows through on a commitment by Brownback to fix this shameful problem.
Arkansas City Traveler
Closed records – Kansas law makes it possible for law enforcement to tightly seal records about criminal cases. Meanwhile, this same kind of information is routinely available to the public in most other states, including Missouri. The Kansas Legislature should discard the current state law and open up criminal records to more public inspection.
Kansas City Star
Fishing expedition – The U.S. Justice Department’s fishing expedition through Associated Press waters in search of a government source who leaked classified information on a foiled terrorist plot is a major breach of the media’s right to freely find information and make it available to the public. The Justice Department clearly is guilty of overreaching and the mistake must be acknowledged, and never repeated.
Amtrak – It might seem pricey, but Hutchinson should commit to another year of a multicity lobbying effort to preserve Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route through southwest Kansas. The money goes to retain a Washington, D.C., firm to help secure federal transportation money for upgrading the track. It needs $100 million in repairs to remain passenger rail capable. Without the improvements, Amtrak plans to shift the route south into Texas and Oklahoma. Loss of Amtrak service would be a blow to southwest Kansas and, specifically, Hutchinson.