Wind energy is benefiting state
Built in 2005, the 150-megawatt Elk River Wind Farm on the Ferrell ranch produces enough energy to power upwards of 60,000 residences. Construction of the wind farm brought up to 200 jobs with eight full-time, permanent positions in the community. Additionally, the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement provides for a total payment of $2.25 million ($150,000 per year) to Butler County in the first 15 years of the project’s term.
The wind industry provides economic benefits for Kansas, creating more than 13,000 jobs with $8 billion invested in our economy.
For ranchers and farmers, wind provides a steady income in times of economic insecurity. The land-owner payments I receive from the Elk River Wind Farm have helped me to survive the prolonged drought of recent years.
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Kansas has the second-best wind resource in the United States. We should use this resource to grow rural economies and support agricultural producers. The highly successful renewable portfolio standards (RPS) have attracted business development to the state. The wind industry in Kansas has the potential to be a $100 billion business.
The RPS doesn’t cost taxpayers anything. Why the Legislature would even consider repealing such an effective business development policy is beyond me.
Shielding the rich
Shame on U.S. Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Mike Pompeo, Lynn Jenkins and Kevin Yoder for voting to repeal the estate tax. America has had estate taxes since 1797. They were established by our Founding Fathers to shield against the creation of a hereditary elite.
These four lawmakers voted to give 25 of the nation’s billionaires a $334 billion tax break. They raise the usual canard about benefiting family farms and small businesses. However, only 120 small businesses and farms (100 of them large farms) in the United States were hit by the estate tax in 2013, and they were further cushioned by other tax breaks. Meanwhile, the lawmakers cut billions from food stamps and other crucial programs for our most vulnerable citizens.
A person winning a lottery would be taxed anywhere from 25 to 50 percent. But for winning the genetic lottery of a huge windfall from a family inheritance, no taxes are required. Billionaires Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and George Soros support strong estate taxes. Apparently the monied interests that have bought off the Kansas delegation do not.
I’m unhappy about a comment by Wichita State University athletic director Eric Sexton (“Adams’ approach at heart of dispute,” April 26 Sports). He said he was sorry that some athletes had the “perception” that their complaints about WSU women’s basketball coach Jody Adams were not taken seriously. These were serious allegations that needed a full investigation, not merely an “inquiry.” Should these allegations prove true, the university administration needs to learn from the serious mistakes that allowed this problem to grow.
WSU is a first-class university. The management of its departments needs to reflect that.
LARRY E. BARNES
I graduated from Wichita High School East in the 1960s. We didn’t have “#givethemletters” (“Board: Give varsity letters to special-needs students,” April 28 Local & State). We used the process to “let them earn letters.”
We had students who had polio, with their legs in permanent braces. But by following the athletic guidelines in use at the time, those in braces could earn a letter, too. And they wore their jackets as proudly as anyone.
Parents did not sew letters onto their children’s jackets; the letters were “awarded” rather than “given.”
The veterans of World War II who earned letters in the 1930s and ’40s thought the program was fair, as did the Korean, Vietnam and Desert Storm veterans. Now we have decided the whole program was never fair after all.
Now, getting a letter in high school will never mean the same again.
I still prefer to “let them earn letters.”
LARRY G. HOUTZ
A letter about the history of state Sen. Michael O’Donnell, R-Wichita, bending the rules was spot-on (“Live rent-free,” April 22 Letters to the Editor).
It seems as if those most obsessed with preventing cheating are those who habitually cheat themselves. It’s no surprise that the welfare-reform law’s chief promoter (O’Donnell) was previously best known for the alleged tax dodge of identifying a house he lived in as a church parsonage to avoid property taxes/rent.
People who believe they are special – and that the rules shouldn’t apply to them – project their own self-serving views on everyone else. Because they would take a mile whenever an inch is offered, they think everyone else would do the same.
That said, if welfare recipients are going on cruises or purchasing other luxury services, they have far more income than the paltry benefits they get from welfare. That means they must have large sources of unreported income, which is the real problem that should be addressed.
The new law, rather than addressing anything, just serves as a means to denigrate the poor and reinforce stereotypes about who the poor are and how they live.
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