With the clock running out on this year’s legislative session, it appears as if Gov. Sam Brownback and state lawmakers may put off until next year the decision on whether to expand Medicaid. Though delaying would be better than blocking expansion, it still would be costly, especially for Kansans who need health insurance.
Higher ed Gov. Sam Brownback toured many of the states colleges and universities recently, telling supporters that holding higher education funding steady is essential to Kansas economy. Colleges are full of smart people, however, and the mixed message of Brownbacks tour escaped no one.
Kansas lawmakers were warned about the constitutional problems with the Second Amendment Protection Act. Yet they passed it overwhelmingly and the governor, an attorney, proudly signed it.
Last spring the Legislature failed spectacularly at its once-a-decade job of redistricting, so paralyzed by GOP infighting that three federal judges ended up redrawing the maps. This week Kansas got a bill for that humiliating display – $389,000 the judges say it must pay for attorneys’ fees and expenses stemming from the resulting lawsuit. Consider it a fresh reminder of the need to do something as a state to reform redistricting for 2022, 2032 and beyond.
If Gov. Sam Brownback persuades the House next week to hang onto the higher sales-tax rate after June 30, he may avoid budget cuts to higher education, help offset last year’s income-tax cuts and further drive down the state income tax. As always, though, such action in Topeka could have ripple effects on local governments, including what it would do to their ability to use local sales taxes for local needs.
Gov. Sam Brownback should heed the pleas of parents of intellectually and developmentally disabled Kansans and keep long-term care services out of KanCare.
If tribal and privately owned casinos around the country insist on allowing smoking, that’s their business – though behind the times and bad for the health of their employees and customers. But it is Kansans’ business that state-owned casinos continue to allow smoking, and disappointing that state lawmakers show dwindling interest in righting that wrong.
Gun resolutions Governments of Ulysses, Syracuse and Lakin recently passed resolutions endorsing the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Grant and Seward counties did the same. In doing so, theyve raised a simple question from many observers: Why bother?
A community that sounds out its citizens can design its own future accordingly. Credit the city of Wichita and Sedgwick County for doing the Wichita-Sedgwick County Community Investments Plan survey and, more important, for promising to gather and be guided by more input in the coming days. It was good of them to ask, and the survey findings are illuminating and encouraging as far as they go.
Good for Gov. Sam Brownback for recognizing that the state may lose its lawsuit over school funding and need more tax revenue. But where is this reflected in his budget? And hasn’t he already pledged increased sales-tax revenue for other purposes, including further reducing the state’s income taxes?
State leaders should be fast-tracking streaming-video capability at the Statehouse, not trailing other states on high-tech transparency. The more open the Legislature is to public view, the better.
Bob Dole still has much to teach today’s politicians about leadership and how to get things done in Washington, D.C. Sadly, some of the lessons should be obvious, including: “Compromise is not a bad word.”
If anything was clear about the confusing Statehouse debate over whether to merge the Kansas Turnpike Authority and the Department of Transportation in full or in part, it was legislative intent: To their credit, lawmakers didn’t want to do anything to wreck the turnpike, the 236-mile toll road through south-central and eastern Kansas that has served drivers and the state’s economy so well for 57 years.
Taker nation Sprawling Sumner County in southern Kansas rich with agriculture, older residents and wide-open spaces took in federal benefits in 2010 that were 40 to 50 percent more, on average, than county residents paid in federal taxes. Yet the benefits rarely get mentioned. Its the critical disconnect in the national debate that must change.
The baseless Statehouse narrative that universities are out of control and ripe for cutting got personal last week for Wichita, which learned that legislative budget proposals could mean the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita would lose the program for first- and second-year medical students and 15 medical resident positions.
Though many Kansans like to complain about federal spending, they may not realize, or won’t admit, how dependent our state is on that spending. If they are serious about wanting smaller government, they will have to share the pain of spending cuts.
Our “more perfect union” is bitterly split on guns, with recent actions in Sedgwick County and at the Statehouse sharply contrasting with proposals before Congress. If only all the passion and activism could coalesce around something to actually improve public safety.
Say this about Kansas’ tax reform: It united liberal and conservative finance experts.
Even after bombings in New York City, Oklahoma City and Atlanta and a coordinated attack with a staggering death toll, Americans have chosen to live freely and fearlessly. That’s what we do. And so it was Monday, when the sport, joy and patriotism of the Boston Marathon became a target and a scene of bloody horror.
As the U.S. Air Force draws closer to naming its preferred sites to receive new KC-46A refueling tankers, it can be assured that Wichita and McConnell Air Force Base welcome the responsibility and are uniquely qualified and prepared to fulfill it.