Stay the course in Legislature
Friday, the Kansas Consensus Revenue Estimating Group increased its estimate of total state revenue for the next 15 months by $534 million.
The passage of comprehensive tax reform in 2017, which began to end of the fool-hardy Brownback tax experiment, is truly making a difference in our financial health. Increased revenue this year has pointed to that conclusion all along. This is a remarkable turnaround.
However, these numbers are simply estimates. There is much that is still uncertain. Revenue estimates have been wildly inaccurate in the past few years. Most federal tax changes have not been implemented. Agriculture continues to struggle and a prolonged trade war is possible, adding to difficulties in rural Kansas. All of these unpredictable factors will affect state income. We should not count on it until it is more certain.
We should turn our attention to long-term reinvestment in our state infrastructure. Kansas still maintains record setting debt and continues to borrow from the Department of Transportation. Our revenue should be used for all: supporting our Kansas schools, adequately funding health care and repairing our state agency budgets. The consequences of the 2012 tax policy are far from over. We need to invest to ensure stability for the future.
Sen. Lynn Rogers, Wichita
Other side of Brownback tax plan
I did not pay much attention to the vitriol toward former Gov. Brownback, but figured he must doing a great job because I knew him to be a man of integrity and doing right is generally unpopular. Especially in today’s world.
I am paying attention now. I just experienced that indeed he was doing our state a huge favor. He was holding down taxes. I received my Kansas tax bill last week. I paid five times the amount I paid in 2015 and certainly not due to commensurate increase in income.
I have had interesting conversations with five legislators, not selected by party or region, and all helpful. Each one had a different take.
One assured me that while my insights were valid they would be drowned out in Topeka. The tax-and-spend group wins. One explained that four school districts are suing the state for more money, which will obviously swallow up much of our increased “donations.” That is reassuring.
One legislator mentioned they are trying get a constitutional amendment about Supreme Court involvement in school funding. If you feel this was an inappropriate move by the Supreme Court, call a legislator and let them know.
Connie Newcome, Inman
Missing the mission
The Kansas Board of Regents mission statement for Wichita State University says: “The mission of Wichita State University is to be an essential educational, cultural, and economic driver for Kansas and the greater public good.”
WSU is not meeting its mission. Instead of endowing WSU’s College of Education to create a demonstration school, or a replacement child development center, the Koch family is opening a $10,000-a-year private school on the campus. This does not serve teacher education nor the “greater public good.” It diminishes opportunities for students and pedagogical faculty.
The Innovation Campus is a smokescreen for corporatizing WSU and enriching the same old Wichita power elite. Regents chairman David Murfin partially owns The Flats developer MWCB along with Nestor Weigand Jr., Ivan Crossland and Steve Barrett. WSU pays $1 million base rent to house students in The Flats. President John Bardo is the sole board member of the for-profit Innovation Alliance.
This is robbing taxpayers, faculty, staff, alumni, students and the greater community of funding needed for accessible, appropriate and affordable education in languages, liberal arts, and sciences to push the corporate agenda.
Leslie Page, Wichita
I am writing to bring your attention to Senate Bill 359, a bill that holds state agencies accountable for reports of racial profiling and biased policing.
Currently in Kansas, there are no laws in place that hold law enforcement or state agencies accountable on following up or collecting data regarding racial profiling. In one of the racial profiling complaints filed in Kansas, a man was pulled over to ensure that “he was not with terrorism” under the Patriot Act.
Many racial profiling complaints filed are unsubstantiated or do not have enough evidence. Due to this, many Kansans feel mistrustful of state agencies and do not report it when they have been racially profiled.
Through the bill, agencies would have 10 days to address the report of racial profiling and take appropriate action. This bill would increase public trust due to transparency and accountability from state agencies and law enforcement.
In order to promote a culture of equality and fairness in Kansas, please support this bill, share it, and join us in showing legislators that fairness and equality matter to you.
Valerie Noseng, Wichita
I was upset with James Comey for the decision he made about Hillary Clinton’s emails 11 days before the election. But I purchased his book, “A Higher Loyalty.” I have great respect for Comey for standing up for himself and his loyalty to the FBI and the law, not President Trump’s law.
Sondra Luke, Wichita
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