Kansas views on state budget, Medicaid expansion, school funding, prison funding

State budget – Take a look at Kansas, where everything is fine, just fine. Just don’t look too closely, lest you notice the cracks in the foundation. That about summarizes Gov. Sam Brownback’s State of the State address last week, and the budget his administration presented.

Kansas City Star

Medicaid expansion – Gov. Sam Brownback informed the Kansas Legislature that he won’t recommend accepting an optional expansion of Medicaid, at least for the time being. Brownback said he has concerns about “Obamacare” and that his priority remains extending in-home services to disabled Kansans who are on a waiting list for services – and that the expansion of Medicaid would take away resources from disabled Kansans. “That’ll all come away from people with disabilities,” Brownback said. “That’s not a moral choice.” Such a claim is thin, at best, and an explanation of how expanding Medicaid takes money away from the disabled awaits. Nevertheless, dogged resistance from the governor and the Legislature to accept an expansion of Medicaid is baffling, inexcusable and irresponsible. And it is anything but moral.

Hutchinson News

No research – A good deal of the trouble in Topeka today can be explained simply: The Legislature has passed too many bills without adequate research. Based on Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s 20-or-fewer cases of alleged voter fraud, we now have a thousand times that many prospective voters in suspension. Based on the concerns of Rep. Kasha Kelley, R-Arkansas City, Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, and others about welfare recipients on drugs, we now have an expensive program to find out how many there are. Based on the belief of Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, that concealed-carry of firearms makes us safer in local public buildings, we now have an onerous state mandate to allow it. And based on economist Arthur Laffer’s theory that tax cuts create more state revenue, we now have projected revenue shortfalls that threaten public education, public safety and the state’s social safety net. None of these laws rests on serious research.

Winfield Daily Courier

School funding – The Legislature broke its promise when it slashed state funding to public schools. It would cost the state an additional $450 million annually to reach the funding level agreed upon in 2005 under the previous court order. That will require either deep cuts elsewhere – and there isn’t much left to cut after years of stripping state government – or restoring some of the income-tax cuts pushed through by Gov. Sam Brownback. We greatly prefer the latter, especially since the state has not seen any indication that these cuts have created jobs or boosted the economy as promised.

Daily Union, Junction City

Prison funding – When the state faces so many financial needs for schools, highways, social programs and other responsibilities, why should Kansas taxpayers spend money on programs to help prison inmates? Because, in most cases, those inmates will eventually leave prison and either successfully re-enter society or continue to be a threat to those around them. In many cases, they will end up back in custody, where they not only will be wasting their lives but also creating many costs for taxpayers in the form of law enforcement, court expenses and prison services.

Lawrence Journal-World