Kansas Views (March 26)

Cash reserves – Legislators last year passed a bill that allowed school districts to divert reserves in specific funds, about $150 million, to their general funds. About 77 districts used that authority to send $24 million to their general funds for the current fiscal year, but House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, wasn’t happy with that level of response and has introduced a bill that would require school districts to spend more of that money or risk losing it. From this vantage point, $150 million spread across all the school districts in the state doesn’t indicate the districts are hoarding cash on a whim. Given the status of the state’s own budget before the current administration took over, districts could be excused for hanging onto some money to deal with reoccurring funding reductions and tardy distribution of revenue from the state. O’Neal and his colleagues should focus on managing the state’s cash carryover and let the elected leaders of our counties, cities and school districts decide the appropriate level of their ending balances.

Topeka Capital-Journal

Texas model – The example of Texas, which Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has touted, is not one Kansas would like to follow. Texas has no income tax, but its personal income per capita is well below the national average, and Texas has social problems that will come to haunt it. One-third of the state’s jobs do not pay enough to raise a family above poverty. Texas ranks 50th among states in high school completion rates and children without health insurance. As Wichita State University professor H. Edward Flentje wrote recently, making Kansas like Texas would diminish the quality of life Kansans have built over many generations. Also, it would take years to demonstrate that lower income tax rates (or no income tax at all) led to the creation of more good-paying jobs in Kansas.

Winfield Daily Courier

Kobach – Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a busy man. Not only is he an adviser to GOP presidential candidate hopeful Mitt Romney, honorary chairman of Republican Mark Gilstrap’s campaign for the Kansas Senate, chairman and founder of the political action committee Prairie Fire, and a hired gun in many states concerned about the immigration issue – he still finds time to have at least 186 interviews and appearances with media organizations outside Kansas during the past year. And that’s only what he does during his spare time. Kobach swears nothing detracts from giving his full attention to his job as chief elections officer for the state of Kansas. We only can hope Kansas voters see the potential dangers presented by this busy official.

Hays Daily News

Gun law – So far, Kansas has been fortunate to avoid an incident similar to the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. Kansas has a law similar to Florida’s, stating that any person has the right to stand his ground at any place he has a right to be. Before legislators altered the law in 2010, it contained a “duty to retreat” provision, which required an initial attempt to leave a volatile situation before resorting to deadly force – with an exception for a person’s private property. Kansas would do well to re-evaluate its law to prevent a similar tragedy here.

Hutchinson News

New corn – Seed giant Monsanto Co. has developed the first government-approved biotech crop designed to deal with drought. When combined with improved agricultural practices, the new corn could help farmers in drought-stricken Plains states. Though far from a cure-all for a water problem that must be attacked from many angles, the new corn could bring some relief at a time every possible attempt to reduce water use would help.

Garden City Telegram