State budget – Even before the past two months’ revenue shortfalls, problems were evident. With a month to go in fiscal year 2014, it appears that individual income tax receipts will be about $700 million less than a year ago, a nearly 24 percent drop. Even if April and May were just aberrations, even if “the big lug” really is over, Kansas is going to run out of money sooner than later. What then? Conservatives talk of lowering costs by shrinking government, but we can’t see that Kansas has hundreds of millions of dollars more waiting to be cut, and not just this year, but every year.
Candidates for the governor’s office and legislative seats must acknowledge that the state is in a fiscal crisis, and talk about what they plan to do about it. They should spare voters the platitudes about “shrinking government.” Kansas government is starving, and politicians are going to have to contemplate the unthinkable – a rollback of the draconian tax cuts that never should have been passed. The numbers are bad and primed to get worse. No flowery campaign talk can change the dreadful mathematics.
Kansas City Star
Coal plant – Utilities will need time to digest how new Environmental Protection Agency rules would affect existing plant operations. Moving forward, let’s hope Sunflower Electric Power Corp. receives credit for a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, to include plans to pursue carbon mitigation technologies that represent the kind of innovation the state and nation should support. Sunflower has long been considered a model in addressing energy needs in a responsible and affordable way – which is why the proposed expansion plan at Holcomb still has merit.
Garden City Telegram
Hermanson – Former state Rep. Phil Hermanson did the right thing by resigning his position as acting inspector general of KanCare, Kansas’ Medicaid system. Hermanson’s presence became a distraction at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which includes KanCare, after news of his April appointment recently became public knowledge. Now that he is gone, KDHE Secretary Robert Moser is free to select someone for the job who has the proper qualifications.
Interest groups – Some candidates and elected officials in Kansas and elsewhere have increasingly taken their cues not from their constituents but from well-funded interest groups. These groups are often opaque and often from out of state. And too often, their priorities don’t coincide with those of local residents. We hope voters can tune out the machine-driven noise. And we hope legislative candidates remember that the interest group that matters consists of the citizens of their districts.
KU tickets – This past school year, the University of Kansas Student Senate voted to reduce the student fee earmarked to support the athletics department. KU athletics officials said the lower fee would amount to $350,000 in lost revenue. To get even and apparently punish the students, athletic officials announced – when the vast majority of students were out of town – that prime courtside seats that had been reserved for students in Allen Fieldhouse will be taken away and made available to well-heeled alumni and friends if they can donate thousands of dollars in addition to the cost of the tickets. Money calls the shots, and major college athletics are governed, almost controlled, by money.