Budget shortfall – If the state meets its revenue projections through the end of the current fiscal year, which runs through June 30, 2015, it will end the year with about $25 million in the bank, based on projected expenditures. Meeting the revenue projections is not impossible, but it appears unlikely at this point. And by November, the state and political candidates should have a good idea whether the 2015 Legislature will have to take action on a budget remedy. Candidates should let the voters know before Election Day what they plan to do if it appears the budget is going to need some remedial action.
While Gov. Sam Brownback and his allies champion the discredited ideas of quasi-economist Arthur Laffer, it’s becoming painfully clear that Brownback’s version of trickle-down economics simply means setting a steady stream of higher cost and responsibility to local communities. These policies also mean a marked reduction in the state’s ability to meet its obligations to Kansans, as they likely will force additional cuts to state services well into the future.
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Davis plan – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis’ call to postpone the next phase of income tax cuts until per-pupil public education funding reaches the level it was before the 2008 recession is on target. Unfortunately, that corrective action would have to be taken by a GOP-controlled Legislature that considers school funding to be adequate and income tax cuts to be its signature undertaking. The Brownback income tax cuts cratered the state budget with remarkable swiftness. Digging out of the hole is likely to be a longer process.
Kansas City Star
Election – The right-wingers’ 2012 campaign to seize control of state government brought down a number of good state senators who could be counted on to resist such harmful pursuits as undermining K-12 schools, shifting the tax burden from the state to local level, and robbing oil-and-gas trust and other safety-net funds to cover budget shortfalls created by tax cuts for the wealthy. The targeted lawmakers fell prey to a Koch-Kansas Chamber of Commerce campaign of misinformation designed to sideline anyone not on board. This election, citizens – not special-interest groups – should control the political process, and can do so by studying the issues and voting for candidates who would best serve their community.
Garden City Telegram
Teacher licensing – Loosening teacher licensing requirements could, as the Kansas National Education Association contends, undermine the teaching profession and education quality in Kansas. But our sense is that the changes could strengthen the teaching profession in Kansas and make rural faculties more diverse. Certainly, given the difficulties some districts have finding teachers, it’s worth trying.
Wefald – Few American university presidents or chancellors have made such a positive difference in their institutions as did Jon Wefald in his 23 years as president of Kansas State University. The Minnesota native stepped aside as KSU president in 2009, and last month university and Kansas Board of Regents officials announced that a new residence hall at the school would be named Wefald Hall. It is entirely fitting that the new 540-student “transformational” residence hall, which is designed with a nontraditional environment, will carry the name of Wefald, a nontraditional and sometimes maverick university president who got things done.