Editorials

Kansas views (Nov. 7)

Power plant — In a letter to the state health department, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has essentially accused the state of lying to the Kansas Supreme Court. The state told the court the EPA didn't object to the permit for Sunflower's coal-fired power plant in western Kansas. But an EPA response letter says that, in fact, the feds have made it clear they don't think the permit is strict enough. The Supreme Court needs to sort out this mess. So far, state and federal governments have failed to take appropriate steps to protect thousands of Kansans from a larger plant's future harmful emissions. — Kansas City Star

Bioscience — It appears a sufficient number of Kansas Bioscience Authority directors are intent to disregard a Johnson County investigation of former president and CEO Tom Thornton and actions of authority directors, and pay no attention to a forensic audit by the firm of BKD, and make interim CEO David Vranicar the permanent CEO. Why the rush when there are so many unanswered questions about the actions of Thornton and the board? Months ago, state Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, asked many important questions about the authority that have yet to be answered. The public deserves some honest answers. — Lawrence Journal-World

School finance — In some ways the Brownback school-finance plan would simplify the current funding formula, and that has some appeal. But it also appears to shift more responsibility for taxation to the local level, and that has the potential to undermine the central goal of the current system — equalization of taxation and quality of education across all school districts, rich and poor. Kansas should not go backward. The state has an obligation to provide the same quality of education to a child in the inner city or rural western Kansas as it does to the one in the wealthy suburbs. — Hutchinson News

Bad model — For reasons not clear to us, Gov. Sam Brownback repeatedly has held up Florida's education system as the model he'd like to see implemented in Kansas. But new figures from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that from 2009 to 2011, Kansas fourth- and eighth-graders either remained level or improved in both reading and math. In Florida, decreases were noted in all four categories. The percentages of students at or above proficiency levels follow the same pattern. We hope all the statistics lay to rest any claims by the governor's office that we should follow Florida's lead. Brownback himself shouldn't be able to support anything Florida is doing regarding student performance. — Hays Daily News

SRS fraud — Robert Siedlecki, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, has had his share of critics since he took the agency's reins in hand last year. Everyone, however, should be on board with Siedlecki's plan to increase the size of his department's investigative staff in an attempt to identify and stop the fraud that drains SRS programs of money that should be going to those who legitimately need services. Lest anyone doubt the agency's funds are being lost to the unscrupulous, SRS auditors in August found evidence one contractor may have illegally collected $1 million from the state. There also are indications an out-of-state subcontractor could have swindled the state out of as much as $800,000. It wouldn't surprise us if there were larger thefts out there still to be discovered. — Topeka Capital-Journal

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