Working poor – The 2013 legislative session was a disaster for the working poor. Kansas workers who earn less than $23,500 for a family of four will not have access to expanded Medicaid health insurance. They will have to go to a federal online exchange to get insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Over the next five years, they will share in a $1.2 billion sales-tax increase, which hits them harder than anyone. Along with the middle class, they will lose $975 million in income-tax deductions over that same period. All this is a result of Gov. Sam Brownback’s quixotic idea that reducing individual income taxes on business owners will boom the economy.
Winfield Daily Courier
State budget – The two-year spending plan places income-tax cuts ahead of schools, universities and public safety. Giving tax breaks to wealthy Kansans matters more to state leaders than investing in the state and its citizens.
Kansas City Star
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Sales tax – It’s pretty obvious, based on the just-ended legislative session, just how much we can trust the Kansas Legislature to do as it promised. If you believe your income-tax rates will be lowered in future years, we’ve got a sales-tax increase to sell you. It will sunset in a few years, wink, wink. The entire thing is just embarrassing.
Chutzpah – It’s only early June, but already we think we have the winner of the 2013 Chutzpah Award. At this point, we don’t see how anyone can top our state’s governor, Sam Brownback. After the legislative session, the Governor’s Office released a statement saying that the tax-reform bill “cuts the state’s sales-tax rate.” This is right up there with him taking credit for the revenue from Gov. Mark Parkinson’s penny sales tax.
Higher education – The Kansas Board of Regents has plenty of reason to be disappointed and even angry at Kansas lawmakers who approved budget cuts exceeding 5 percent for the universities under the regents’ purview. The cuts will, as members assert, hurt the education of thousands of present and future students, contribute to the exodus of some of the system’s most qualified faculty, and undermine the long-term prosperity that legislators say is crucial for Kansas.
The Legislature made cuts to our state universities and left college administrators scrambling to make up for it by asking the Kansas Board of Regents to let them raise student tuition. In other words, the Legislature yet again raised the price of a college education. This will continue to discourage middle- and low-income Kansas students from pursuing higher education or leave them strapped with debt for decades. Gov. Sam Brownback and his sidekicks, conservative Republican legislators, are succeeding in dismantling Kansas with each slash to education they make.
Science standards – A solid majority of the Kansas State Board of Education voted to adopt new standards that consider evolution a well-established and core scientific concept. We can’t help but remain concerned that members such as Ken Willard of Hutchinson rail against the standards thusly: “This nonobjective, unscientific approach to education standards amounts to little more than indoctrination in political correctness.” We realize it’s an elected position, but shouldn’t the state board have certain minimum requirements to serve? Being able to define science would be a great place to start.
Hays Daily News