Letters to the editor on sales tax proposal, aquifer, arena size, living wage, VA care

06/01/2014 12:00 AM

06/01/2014 6:43 AM

Sales tax proposal should be tabled

I believe that the lesson learned from the Sedgwick County sales tax assessment of 1 percent established in 1985 (with 58 percent of the revenue going to Wichita) is that the use of the funds was very restrictive to only two categories (property tax reduction and assistance for infrastructure regarding bridges, roads and streets). These two categories have had an impact on a significant component of the total population.

This proposed 1 percent sales tax rate increase (May 28 Eagle) is considered by many to be an overload to city of Wichita taxpayers, as the state is most likely to keep its current 6.15 percent sales tax rate in effect for the long haul due to its budgeting problems.

I believe that the current proposal should be tabled and analyzed further for at least another year. The water supply investment issue should be assessed for alternative financing methods. It seems unusual that a potential 40-year investment asset should be scheduled to be paid in full in five years.



Support tax

I attended last week’s Wichita City Council meeting but, unfortunately, had to leave before business was concluded. I support the decision of council members to approve the sales tax increase.

They are sailing into strong headwinds, as a letter indicated (“Why agree to a sales tax increase?” May 29 Letters to the Editor). I agree with the letter writer’s argument. Leaders in state government have released too many people from paying income tax, refused federal dollars for health care, pose a threat to Medicare and are working against the common interest and good. There are lots of reasons to vote against entrenched interests in Topeka.

But the City Council action was about voting for the common interest and good of our community. We need a reliable and improved bus system. (Thank you, council member Janet Miller and those who voted with you.) We need a secure water source. We need to maintain city streets. I have to hope that the jobs fund will be a true investment in jobs that pay a living wage and adequate benefits.



Show how it’s done

The writer of “Why agree to a sales tax increase?” (May 29 Letters to the Editor) is justified in his anger about the city’s proposed sales tax increase to cover improvements when it’s the governor’s tax policies – the most galling of which is the elimination of income tax for a few – that have starved the state and the cities of needed revenue. But just because the governor is bent on making this state unlivable doesn’t mean Wichita should follow suit.

All taxes affect the poor disproportionately, but this tax will guarantee the bus service so many of them need. I am not as enthusiastic about a job development fund, but I’ll give the city the benefit of the doubt and hope it creates the promised jobs.

We all use roads; tax us and fix them. Water is our biggest priority; without it nothing else matters.

So let’s not cut off our noses to spite our faces. Topeka has been doing that enough lately. Let’s show the state how a government and its people implement a truly fair tax structure and with that revenue get things done.



Recharge aquifer

Though the city’s project to recharge and protect our groundwater resources in the Equus Beds has been somewhat successful, its effectiveness is limited by the fact that the city is acting alone. Wichita is not the only stakeholder in the Equus Beds and should not be the only entity working to recharge and protect the aquifer.

Gov. Sam Brownback has belatedly acknowledged that water resources in our state are limited and under increasing pressure. Wichita should turn to his administration to take a role in bringing all stakeholders – especially agriculture – together to carry out a comprehensive program to recharge the aquifer. This should be done in multiple sites throughout the area governed by the Equus Beds Groundwater Management District. Only by having all stakeholders involved can a comprehensive program to manage the groundwater be fashioned.

Wichita has carried out what amounts to a pilot project and has shown that it can work. If we all work together we can assure this valuable resource for years to come for all of us.



Size matters

Regarding “Where are the big acts?” (May 23 Eagle Editorial): Easy answer – in bigger arenas.

Concert seating capacity: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo., 19,252; BOK Center, Tulsa, 19,199; Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, 19,000; AT&T Center, San Antonio, 19,000; Philips Arena, Atlanta, 17,700.

How did Fargo, N.D., get Paul McCartney? The Fargodome seats more than 25,000.

Intrust Bank Arena seats 15,000.



Pay living wage

It’s atrocious that three-fourths of public school students in Wichita qualify for free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches (“Free meals, snacks for kids at 35 sites,” May 20 Local & State). This in a country considered one of the richest in the world. Don’t tell me all of those students have no parents working.

Businesses: Step up and start paying living wages to your employees. Don’t wait for the government to tell you to do the right thing.



Wages pay off

“Should reward working people” (May 21 Letters to the Editor) said what has been needed to be said for a long time.

We finally have a pope who sees the world as Jesus saw it. All my life I have not understood how any Christian could read the Gospels, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and then proceed with a Darwinian “survival of the fittest” attitude.

Also, Pope Francis’ suggestions are not just following the teachings of Jesus. The principles are also psychologically healthy. The basic core for a sense of well-being is to feel worthwhile. That is almost impossible when you can’t feed your family and provide health care when working a full-time job. It is depressing.

Wake up, people, and look at our priorities. Better wages could help people feel better about themselves and what they do. They might work harder and more efficiently. And being less depressed, they should have fewer health problems.

Or we can keep them hopeless with cheap wages, which encourage them to look for handouts. And we can continue to use them for scapegoats for having to pay high taxes.



Care for veterans

It is appalling what is happening and has happened to many of our veterans because of dishonesty in the Department of Veterans Affairs and at some VA hospitals. These servicemen and women have fought for their country. Their failure to receive good care and treatment at VA hospitals is inhumane and immoral.

I think that those who are responsible for this lack of good treatment should read and contemplate the following statement by World War II Gen. Omar Bradley: “We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.... Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we do about peace – more about killing than we do about living.”



Care is good

There has been much negative publicity about the poor medical care that veterans are getting at some Department of Veteran Affairs hospitals. I am a World War II veteran. My care at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center has been good. The medical center has helped me. The workers, volunteers and medical professionals are doing good work.

I hope we will continue to support our VA hospitals.



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