This year seemed to leave me with more questions than answers:
The Gannon v. Kansas case that’s in the middle of the Legislature’s school-funding fight with the Kansas Supreme Court was filed in November 2010. Kindergartners that year are now in seventh grade. Will these kids be registered to vote for their own lawmakers before the case is finally resolved?
Downtown Wichita continued to grow with more housing and hotels, and the city’s sense of civic pride continued to swell. But Naftzger Park will still be Naftzger Park in March for the NCAA Tournament, and why haven’t community discussions started about taking Century II into Century III?
And when the Wichita Flagwavers open the Pacific Coast League baseball season at $40 million Longwell Stadium in April 2020, will I stand and cheer while wearing a cap of their parent Miami Marlins? Texas Rangers? Oakland Athletics?
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Need some answers here, 2018. But there are more questions:
Will we survive Gubernageddon? There are five months until the filing deadline, so the field of more than 20 candidates could grow into the size of a college football roster by June 1. More likely, though, the current crop will race around the state while trying to get their names and faces in front of Kansans.
Hyper-controversial secretary of state Kris Kobach and please-let-me-be-governor-soon Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer are the well-known names on the Republican side, along with independent Greg Orman. Everyone else attempts to gain traction by the August primaries. We’ve never had a primary field this big. For our sanity, we may all swear off TV and radio ads, social media and even opening our mailbox until after the primary.
What kind of an NCAA host will we be? As we keep one eye on our Wichita State basketball team at another first-weekend tournament site — no team can play at a site where it’s hosting — Wichita will likely be invaded by Jayhawks, maybe Sooners and six other not-so-uniquely-mascoted fan bases. Intrust Bank Arena will shine, our hotels and restaurants will capitalize, and then we’ll wish two of eight teams well as they head to the Sweet 16 — unless they’re facing the Shockers.
Perhaps a 12-month legislative session? The 2017 session went into June, a month past the normal expiration date, but ended with an override of Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto to end tax cuts. Doomsday scenarios are all over the 2018 version, as lawmakers have already budgeted for an extra 10 days of work in hopes of overcoming several major issues: a school-funding formula that the state Supreme Court still says is inadequate; a prison system battling inmate skirmishes, low pay and difficulty in retaining officers; a Kansas Bureau of Investigation seeing an increased violent crime rate with an overworked and undermanned staff; and a Department for Children and Families beset by questions of adequate care for foster children and other at-risk kids.
One issue that shouldn’t have a large price tag: transparency. A Kansas City Star series on secretive government in Kansas, from the state to local levels, put a spotlight on how government business is successfully conducted outside the view of its citizens.
Many lawmakers said they wanted increased transparency. This is their chance.