An overwhelming majority of Kansans think the state is on the wrong path – 70 percent, according to the latest Kansas Speaks survey by Fort Hays State University’s Docking Institute of Public Affairs. Even more Kansans – 74 percent – are dissatisfied with the job performance of Gov. Sam Brownback.
So as voters go to the polls on Tuesday, they should ask themselves this question: Why should we re-elect lawmakers who helped Brownback put the state on this path?
Answer: We shouldn’t – especially when there are good alternatives in most races.
Many incumbent lawmakers who backed Brownback’s policies were defeated in August primaries across the state. But that wasn’t the case in Sedgwick County, where several Brownback allies advanced to the general election.
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That means local voters have another opportunity this week to consider the state’s current course – which includes recurring budget shortfalls, underfunded schools and insufficient health care options. And to consider whether it makes sense to re-elect the same people who created this mess.
Some GOP incumbents now recognize that their policies are out of step with public opinion. The Republican Senatorial Committee released a “Plan for a Better Kansas” that acknowledges “Kansas is on the wrong track.”
But the plan smacks of an election-year conversion. And its action steps are vague.
For example, the plan calls for “a system of taxation that is fair to all,” noting that “some currently do not pay any taxes while others who do the same job are taxed unfairly.” That appears to refer to Brownback’s tax exemption on pass-through business income.
If the lawmakers support repealing this unfair exemption – as 61 percent of Kansans do, according to Kansas Speaks – why don’t they just say so?
The reason is that many of them still believe in the tax plan and think it is working, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
A top issue for many voters is support for public education – with 76 percent of Kansans dissatisfied with the Legislature’s handling of school funding issues, according to Kansas Speaks. Yet most of the GOP incumbents backed the unconstitutional school block grant bill and grumble about how much the state spends on public education.
If public education is important, why re-elect them?
Most of these lawmakers also blocked Medicaid expansion in Kansas and still oppose it – even though 62 percent of Kansans support it, according to Kansas Speaks.
Vote them out.
Kansans spoke their opinions in the survey. Now they need to speak through the ballot box.
Don’t re-elect them
The following are local incumbent state lawmakers who backed the policies of Gov. Sam Brownback and shouldn’t be re-elected. Read the full Eagle editorial board endorsements at Kansas.com/opinion/editorials.
Sens. Ty Masterson and Mike Petersen. Reps. Gene Suellentrop, Pete DeGraaf, Chuck Weber, Joseph Scapa, Steve Huebert, John Whitmer, Leslie Osterman, Steve Anthimides and Joe Seiwert.