It was very disappointing to learn that the Kansas Chamber of Commerce accused the Kansas Legislature of having "catered to the needs of those at the government trough" when it adopted a balanced state budget.
This unfortunate choice of inflammatory rhetoric can only make it more difficult for our great state to recover from the greatest economic challenge of our time. Nobody wants to raise taxes if it can be avoided. The enactment of a 1-cent sales tax by the majority of both the Kansas House and Senate was recognized as a painful but necessary compromise solution to the state's budget problem.
The important thing to remember is that a coalition of Republicans and Democrats found common ground to end the 2010 Kansas legislative session with a balanced budget. The coalition's motivation certainly wasn't to appease special interests that are feeding "at the government trough." It was intended to preserve essential services while doing the least possible harm to the economy.
The past couple of years have resulted in a $1 billion cut in state spending — an action that affected everyone from kindergarten students to individuals with disabilities. Rather than feeding "at the government trough," these fragile populations have been asked to get by on less. Along the way, state government was forced to be more creative and efficient.
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It would be grossly inaccurate and unfair to describe the business tax breaks of recent years as "the needs of those at the government trough." Those tax breaks were solid investments in the growth of our economy. As our economy recovers, those investments will pay off in more profits for the private sector and more tax revenues for the public sector.
The beneficiaries of those tax breaks need to recognize that fundamental needs of Kansans have to be met, and the sacrifices need to be shared by all.