Poverty – A recent study of childhood poverty in Kansas has revealed that nearly a quarter of the state’s children lived in poverty in 2012. In the simplest terms, it means that nearly 1 in 4 children lives in a home that struggles to make ends meet, struggles to buy enough food or medicine, and most likely relies on public assistance to fill the gaps. And while Kansas’ ruling class has redoubled its efforts to create policies that would force the state’s poor to work and free them from the bondage of a safety net, this quarter of the state’s children languish as they move toward adulthood.
In his “Road Map for Kansas,” Gov. Sam Brownback vowed to reduce poverty. But our ultraconservative Republican governor and his camp have instead pursued such hurtful strategies as cutting people off the welfare rolls, erasing child tax credits and a sales-tax rebate on food that helped the working poor, and rejecting Medicaid expansion that would provide care for more than 150,000 poor Kansans at little cost to the state while also injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into the state’s economy. The plan to push Kansas toward zero state income tax only shows ultraconservative Republicans are content to pay for a corporate-friendly benefit and significant loss of state income by pursuing deep cuts to vital state-funded services and programs, including assistance for the poor.
Garden City Telegram
Governor’s race – Kansas most assuredly remains a Republican voting state, but that doesn’t mean the GOP has a lock on the governor’s office. Kansas is one of 15 states with gubernatorial races that might switch parties during the coming election, according to a recent report in the Washington Post. Gov. Sam Brownback’s tumbling approval ratings of well below 50 percent, as well as the presence of a viable opponent, state Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, were cited by the Post writers as reasons for the Sunflower State election to be one to watch. We agree. Brownback and his extremist policies are too extreme for even a GOP stronghold like Kansas.
Prison mentoring – A community- and faith-based program initiated by Gov. Sam Brownback to help former inmates make the transition to a successful life outside the prison system, Mentoring 4 Success, appears to be paying dividends. The recidivism rate, one year after release from prison, has been 8.6 percent for adult offenders who were matched with a mentor. The recidivism rate after one year for all inmates released from prison over the same period was 17.8 percent. Granted Mentoring 4 Success still is in its early years, but any program that cuts the recidivism rate by more than half must be considered a huge success.
Capitol renovation – Maybe the shiny new copper atop the Kansas Capitol dome will make taxpayers feel better about the renovation project that mushroomed both in cost and scope over the past 12 years. When the project was started in 2001, its estimated cost was between $90 million and $120 million. Then, like any good remodeling project, the price tag began to grow. Barry Greis, the Statehouse architect, recently said the entire project would come in several million dollars below the final budgeted amount of $332 million. The good news is that the project apparently is almost finished, with, by all accounts, dazzling results.