Legislature is no laughing matter
Never would I have imagined that our Legislature could be so idiotic. And never have I felt so powerless to do anything about it. The domination of our political body by one way of thinking has produced outrageous legislation.
First, the majority in our legislative body and our governor simply refuse to admit that the state’s deficit was caused by massive tax cuts. Moreover, they try to blame everyone else for our fiscal problems. Apparently, they live by the philosophy that if you make a statement often enough, it will be believed. So now the state is in for large cuts to our schools and highways, and greater burdens are being placed on local governments.
Schoolchildren and the poor are apparently fair game. I’m sure most of these legislators and the governor don’t spend time around low-income people. Welfare recipients using money for cruises? Really? And how often do they need to go to a bank at $25 a day to accumulate enough money for rent? Isn’t that a necessity?
But, of course, Kansans may now be armed without training or licensing.
I have followed the political career of Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, for a long time. I can’t help but wonder how she can sit and watch the great state of Kansas being destroyed by a simple mistake in judgment.
I think it is clear to everyone that this legislative session has made no progress because of the state budget problems. What is the point of saving the patient at the expense of the patient’s quality of life?
I love Kansas and will leave the state if the insanity continues. I will not subsidize the wealthy at my own expense. Taxes are necessary and, if applied in a fair and even manner, benefit those who have privilege and those less fortunate.
I am a lifelong Republican and pay more than my share of taxes without adding another layer of sin taxes, sales taxes, etc.
It is pretty obvious that the emperor has no clothes. A true Kansan realizes that when you shoot yourself in the foot, you admit the mistake and seek medical aid before you bleed to death.
Legislators are under a lot of pressure to raise taxes, and some are already making the case that tax increases are “necessary” or “may be unavoidable.” But tax increases are not necessary.
The real issue is that Gov. Sam Brownback and too many legislators are unwilling to stand up to pressure from special interests and the bureaucracy to increase spending. Most everyone, including legislators, agrees that government operates inefficiently, but it takes leadership to act on that knowledge.
Some legislators are using “fairness” to rationalize tax increases, and there is an argument to be had. But fairness starts with not taxing any citizen more than necessary to provide services. “Fairness” also precludes giving away targeted tax breaks to a few companies in the name of economic development.
The governor and the Legislature should have taken steps to reduce the cost of government when taxes were reduced, but instead they increased spending. General fund spending this year will be $192 million higher than in 2012, and the budgets under consideration would add another $210 million by fiscal year 2017.
Legislators pushing for tax increases should just admit that they don’t want to push for the other options to balance the budget. It might be easier to listen to special interests (and get re-elected), but it certainly isn’t necessary or fair.
Kansas Policy Institute
The Republican majority in the Legislature, by words and actions, has repeatedly demonstrated its contempt for the poor (by passing recent welfare restrictions and by refusing to expand Medicaid); for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens (by passing a “religious freedom” law); for public schools (by ignoring the Kansas Supreme Court’s rulings on school finance); and for local self-determination (by challenging Wichita’s ordinance reducing marijuana possession penalties).
Other than the mania for easing restrictions on guns, it has been difficult to find issues that Republicans are for. We now have found such an issue (“Insurance tax plan hits trouble in Legislature,” April 22 Eagle).
Referring to a proposed tax increase that would affect the insurance giant Aetna (2014 net income $2 billion, up 7 percent from 2013), House Insurance Committee Chairman Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, said: “As the bill stands, it’s is very, very bad for Aetna. We’re going to do everything we can to take care of Aetna.” It seems Republicans do indeed have a heart.
Public school students and educators, single mothers on welfare, and others who have felt cut adrift by the Legislature can surely sleep better knowing that Aetna will not suffer at the hands of Kansas lawmakers.
Senate Bill 175, passed by the Kansas Senate on March 19, would allow religious student organizations to discriminate in their membership. The bill is awaiting a vote by the full House, where it is expected to pass.
On April 1, Wichita State University’s Student Senate made its voice heard by passing a resolution in opposition to SB 175.
WSU’s notice of nondiscrimination states that the university does not discriminate in its programs and activities on the basis of race, religion, color, natural origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, among other identity classifications. Student Involvement and the Student Government Association at WSU observe the same nondiscrimination policy for registered student organizations, among which religious student organizations are classified.
As WSU student body president this school year, I am concerned that this bill contradicts WSU’s mission of supporting a diverse and inclusive environment for all students.
This proposed law, which creates a protected class on college campuses, essentially would allow student organizations that exhibit discriminatory membership practices to benefit from the same public funds as every other student organization that complies with the university’s nondiscrimination policy.
That does not align with the purpose of public universities.
Safe jobs needed
For many American workers, wages are staying flat or falling, and making ends meet is harder than ever. Yet every day men and women go to work and risk their lives in an unsafe work environment in pursuit of a paycheck that barely pays the bills.
We must educate, mobilize and organize union members and community allies to demand fair pay and good benefits for all workers and stronger safety and health protections to save workers’ lives.
On Workers Memorial Day on Tuesday, we honor our brothers and sisters who lost their lives on the job, and call on Congress to help create good, safe jobs that pay a living wage for every worker in the United States.
Executive vice president
I am an average taxpayer in Kansas. I have retired after 20 years in the military. During those 20 years and since retirement, I have paid federal income taxes like other hardworking Kansans. So I guess you could say I helped pay my own salary and retirement benefits.
Federal spending may be out of control, but cutting active-duty military pay, veterans benefits and the retirement fund is not the solution (“Military costly,” April 10 Letters to the Editor).
Most active-duty military are at or below the poverty level now. The only way to lessen that tax burden is to cut the number of personnel on active duty. Every communist leader and Third World dictator would love to see that.
Military veterans have sacrificed so much, including body parts in some cases. They have earned whatever benefits the federal government can possibly provide.
Letters to the Editor
Include your full name, home address and phone number for verification purposes. All letters are edited for clarity and length; 200 words or fewer are best. Letters may be published in any format and become the property of The Eagle.
Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Wichita Eagle, 825 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67202