Canceling tours a political game
My office has notified hundreds of Kansans that their requests to visit the White House have been declined. The White House has informed Congress that White House tours are canceled indefinitely due to sequestration.
Every spring and summer, thousands of students, families, veterans and other tour groups travel to our nation’s capital to enjoy all of the history and sights our capital city has to offer. To arbitrarily deny access to a taxpayer-funded historical building is seemingly political and clearly cynical.
Sequestration has impacted every branch of government. Like the White House, my office is facing cuts to our operating budget. Yet we have found ways to do more with less, rather than stripping benefits away from our constituents. Yes, tours of the Capitol building will still be provided by my staff, free of charge.
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Perception politics have run amok in Washington, D.C., and this decision has all the appearances of a political move designed to cause public pain. We all need to work together to improve this country’s fiscal outlook. Political games like this have no place in responsible governing or constructive debate.
Sen. PAT ROBERTS
Not a good fit
I am very concerned that the state will include long-term care services for people with developmental disabilities in its managed-care plan for Kansas beginning Jan. 1, 2014. I have yet to receive information that helps me understand where the estimated cost savings (resulting from adding long-term care services to KanCare) of $99 million over five years will occur.
If eligibility standards remain the same, if reimbursement rates remain the same, from where will the savings come?
I strongly urge the state to permanently exclude these long-term care services from KanCare. I remain convinced that this is not a good fit.
About 5,000 Kansas kids and adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities are on waiting lists for services. That’s deplorable and inexcusable.
We have a duty and responsibility to these individuals – a duty to care for and promote dignity and give them some semblance of a decent life. Yet for some unknown reason, 5,000 people in this state wait and wait and wait. These people need our help.
There is no good excuse for waiting lists for services for people with disabilities.
Managed care is not the answer to this problem. It’s especially not the answer when you have abundant examples from around the country that it does not work. Kansas will not be exempt from it not working.
Wind power works
Kansas lawmakers stood for job creation and new investment when they recently rejected legislation that would have altered or weakened our state’s renewable portfolio standard.
About $7 billion in private investment has been directed toward Kansas wind energy since 2001. Much of that investment occurred over the past few years, since the implementation of the RPS, and it has helped create 13,000 new direct and indirect jobs while providing significant new tax base for rural communities and a steady source of new income for farmers.
It is strange that an out-of-state research group would be testifying and writing letters to the editor against Kansas’ renewable-energy development (“Wind costly,” Mar. 5 Letters to the Editor). The Beacon Hill Institute, a Massachusetts-based think-tank, seems to think it has an interest in our state’s mix of electricity generation. Whose economic interest is the institute protecting?
I urge readers to not be misled by well-funded special-interest groups. The benefits of our RPS are clear, and our Legislature has spoken: Renewable energy and wind power work for Kansas.
Rep. NILE DILLMORE
In the current policy debate in Kansas, we often compare our state with Texas. We hear that because Texas has no income tax, its other taxes (sales and property) are higher. We also hear that Texas is “atop a sea of oil” from which the state collects a gusher of tax revenue.
But what are the facts? Regarding taxation, in 2011 Kansas state government collected $2,378 in taxes for each person. Texas collected $1,682. Whatever the mix of taxes, the total tax burden in Texas is lower.
Spending follows the same pattern. In 2011 Kansas state government spent $5,115 per person in total, with $1,974 in general fund spending and $130 in bond spending. For Texas the total was $3,718 spent per person in total, with $1,654 in general fund spending and $50 in bond spending.
The bountiful severance tax revenue: In 2011 Kansas, which has its own severance tax, collected $43 in this form of tax for each person. Texas collected $104 per person from its severance tax. The difference of $61 per person per year is only a small portion of the difference between Kansas and Texas taxation.
The lower level of taxation and spending means Texas has a less-burdensome state government, which allows more money to remain in the productive private sector.
A bill introduced in the House Education Committee says schoolteachers should question scientific opinion regarding climate change (March 1 Eagle). Scientific ignorance runs rampant today.
Some politicians also have decided that scientists really don’t know what they are talking about in regard to evolution, the age of the Earth, the Big Bang theory, etc. Apparently they think their “gut feelings” about such matters are more important than any scientific evidence discovered by reputable scientists.
I suspect what “scientific” information these politicians read comes from a right-wing “think tank” on the Internet that gives impetus to their ignorant but comfortable views.
No human cause
Regarding editorial cartoon on teaching doubts about climate change (March 3 Opinion): Has The Eagle’s patriotic-American-hating editorial cartoonist finally flipped his lid?
Even a newborn baby can sense climate change. The argument is whether or not climate change is human-made.
How can humans change a weather system that is usually as large as a continent? And humans contribute only about 3 percent of the greenhouse gases, which sends the United Nations into panic.
Mission of Mercy
On behalf of the Kansas Mission of Mercy organizing committee, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the Park City and Wichita communities. In two days, more than 400 dental professionals and 600 community volunteers provided free cleanings, fillings and extractions for 1,650 patients at a donated cost of $1.14 million (March 2 Eagle). This is a testament to the dedicated residents of Park City, Wichita and the state of Kansas.
This project is a huge task, and having the support of more than 75 local donors and businesses made it happen. Many of the volunteers spent 14 hours each day to ensure the patients had a positive, caring experience from the time they were served breakfast at 4 a.m. until the last had completed their clinical care at 6 p.m.
We have always been proud to be Kansans, but never more than we were watching this KMOM.
It isn’t nearly enough to say, but we thank you and we will never forget what you have done for adults and children in need. We can’t wait for the next one, and we hope to see many of you in Dodge City in 2014. To learn more, visit www.ksdentalfoundation.org.