Budget mess – Gov. Sam Brownback and his far-right allies own the self-inflicted budget mess that’s led to dollars being diverted from public schools, infrastructure and other areas key to a strong economy. They should swallow their pride and admit the income-tax breaks did far more harm than good. While extensive revision of the tax policy clearly is in order, such change still wouldn’t resolve the current budget situation. That’s how serious the problem has become thanks to the governor’s camp ignoring the painful fallout.
The Legislature finds itself in a predicament similar to that of someone who can’t swim but jumps off a dock without first determining how deep the water is. Our legislators haven’t yet drowned, but they’re frantically treading water while looking for help. Unfortunately, there is no help on the way, and legislators will have to find their own way out of the financial mess known as the state budget.
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In spite of the “no-new-taxes” rhetoric of some firebrand lawmakers, the Legislature has no choice but to raise new revenue to try to fill these budget holes. The Kansas Constitution requires a balanced budget. Rather than cut state services to the bone, the Legislature should bite its collective tongue and make revenues meet expenditures like any responsible household.
Tuition freeze – Kansas legislators say they are concerned about rising tuition at state universities but apparently not concerned enough to consider additional state funding to reduce the need for tuition increases. In fact, a “compromise” written into the current version of the state budget agrees to hold state university funding steady (not increase it) in exchange for universities agreeing not to raise tuition. However, freezing tuition without supplying additional state resources to offset rising operational costs is a one-sided deal.
Welfare reform – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his staff – eager to sell their gospel-of-work justification for welfare reform – went in search of someone who could be the poster child of how work is necessary to lift a person out of poverty. It turns out they didn’t even have to leave the office, because the shining example of welfare success works for the state of Kansas – in the Department for Children and Families, the agency that administers much of the state’s welfare program. Yet how can that be? We all know from the political rhetoric in this state that the government does not create jobs. That’s a role reserved exclusively for private-sector job creators. The governor and conservative lawmakers repeatedly sell this easily digested talking point but then fail to see their hypocrisy by trotting out as an example of self-reliance someone whose paycheck is provided by taxpayers.