Job growth – Gov. Sam Brownback recently said Kansas had created more than 59,000 new private-sector jobs since he took office four years ago. It’s a completely accurate statement. It’s also highly misleading. Using the most telling yardstick – the percentage rate of job growth – Kansas actually trailed more than two-thirds of the nation’s states in adding private-sector employment during Brownback’s first term. More notably, Kansas has created jobs at an even slower pace since the massive income tax cuts that Brownback champions as the savior to the state’s economy took effect in January 2013.
Budget problems – What matters now is not who is to blame for the state’s fiscal problems – it’s Gov. Sam Brownback – but what’s going to be done about it. Rather than acting like frightened schoolkids and demonstrating “Not Me” leadership, Brownback, House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, and Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, need to step up and fix the problem. Brownback says that, given time, his tax cuts will work. We don’t have the time.
That the state is in a financial pickle is not in doubt. But as legislators try to chart the best path out of this particular mess, they should pay heed to their constituents and their own gut instincts. Voices from beyond our borders, such as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, shouldn’t carry any weight in this discussion. Kansans will pay the price – whatever that turns out to be – of righting the state’s budget, and Kansans should determine how that is done. Also, we would do well to remember that the path our state has traveled to the current dilemma was championed by a self-professed expert in tax matters from beyond our borders.
Concealed carry – At first we were assured by leaders of the gun-rights movement that concealed carry would not endanger anyone because training and permits would be required. Now Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, has introduced this bill that would eliminate the requirements for training and permits. Logically, then, must we not now believe constitutional carry would, in fact, endanger us? Our Kansas gun-rights advocates apparently believe the rest of us were not paying attention earlier, or we can just be ignored because they are so politically powerful.
Sports Arena vote – Now that the National Junior College Athletic Association has made a commitment to stay in Hutchinson for another 25 years, pending approval of improvements to the Sports Arena, the April 7 vote to raise the city’s sales tax by 0.35 percent is more than just a vote about improving an aging facility. It’s now a vote about whether Hutchinson is committed to keeping the long-standing community event as part of its culture.
Obama visit – Lawrence had the honor of hosting President Obama. Aside from a few traffic jams caused by police efforts to clear a secure path for the presidential motorcade, his visit seemed to come off without a hitch. Congratulations to all the organizers and advance workers who helped pull off this historic moment for Lawrence and what we hope was an enjoyable visit for the president.