August 31, 2014

Kansas views on job growth, school funding, rural hospitals, Senate race, Kansas Chamber, campus sexual assaults

Much of the hype about the tax cuts and the border war is a myth.

Job growth – Since Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts took effect in January 2013, the Kansas side of the Kansas City region – primarily Johnson and Wyandotte counties – had gained only 6,800 jobs through July 31. That’s according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment totals. The growth rate was 1.5 percent. Over the same time, counties on the Missouri side of the state line had added 7,700 jobs on a bigger base of employees, for a similar growth rate of 1.4 percent. These figures indicate that much of the hype about the tax cuts and the border war is a myth.

Kansas City Star

School funding – Gov. Sam Brownback remains determined to label himself pro-education. But his claim of injecting more money into K-12 classrooms in Kansas is off-base at best. Current base state aid per pupil of $3,852 remains well short of the 2009 total of $4,400, and below the statutory requirement. The governor’s tally of higher state investment per pupil includes increased contributions to the state’s pension system and capital improvement aid for districts, not dollars for teacher salaries or other operational costs. Schools statewide still are being shortchanged, and significant state revenue shortfalls driven by Brownback’s tax cuts for the wealthy only will exacerbate the problem.

Garden City Telegram

Rural hospitals – People who live in the small rural communities of Kansas rely on the critical access hospitals that serve their hometowns. Yet keeping those hospitals afloat is a constant struggle that requires extraordinary investment from taxpayers – fewer of whom are left each year to support those hospitals. The situation isn’t being helped by the bullheaded decision by Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature to reject a federal expansion of Medicaid.

Hutchinson News

Senate race – Democrat Chad Taylor cannot beat Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. Neither can Libertarian candidate Randall Batson. Independent Greg Orman can. But Taylor can siphon off just enough anti-Roberts votes that could keep Roberts in office. If Kansas Democrats are serious about wanting to defeat Roberts, they need to convince Taylor to withdraw from the race.

Hays Daily News

Kansas Chamber – Other than being a conduit for PAC money to ultra-conservative candidates, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce carries little clout. Despite its name, the organization hasn’t represented the best interests of small-town chambers of commerce for many years. In fact, the political nature of the Kansas Chamber has disenfranchised many community chambers that have refused to continue their membership in the state group.

Scott County Record

Campus assaults – With the start of the fall semester at colleges and universities across the country, there’s a lot of discussion about the prevalence of sexual assault among students. The statistics are shocking but perhaps not as shocking as some of the attitudes that have been revealed in campus studies. Much of the focus right now is falling on how colleges handle reports of sexual harassment and assault. That’s important, but not as important as how to prevent those assaults in the first place.

Lawrence Journal-World

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