Letters to the Editor

Letters on Brownback, tax exemption, school costs, refugees, Maize gentrification


Tell governor he’s not wearing clothes

Who can remember the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” about a king who was promised a suit of clothes that would be invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent? No one dares to acknowledge not seeing the suit.

It’s like the politics here in Kansas. How much longer are legislators willing to stand by and watch our state economy be decimated?

Cuts to our schools in Wichita may include nurses, counselors, librarians and custodial staff; not hiring new teachers for retiring ones; and shortening the school day or year. This isn’t job growth.

The money for the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System is not the governor’s secret stash to use at his discretion.

We are not making progress here in Kansas; we’re going backward. It’s time, lawmakers, to stop defending poor policy and rationalizing bad economics. Continuing to promote ideas that are not working puts your heads on the chopping block come election time.

It’s time to tell the governor that he’s not wearing any clothes.

Leslie Foster, Wichita

Repeal tax exemption

The passage of House Bill 2117 in 2012 exempting pass-through business income from taxation was supposed to jump-start the Kansas economy. Instead, Gov. Sam Brownback’s policies are having the exact opposite effect – hurting business, not helping.

Kansas job growth has significantly lagged behind the rest of the nation. Businesses don’t want to move to a state where the infrastructure is being systematically destroyed.

Good roads, good schools and sound fiscal policies will attract businesses. Business leaders in other parts of the country recognize that taxing the poor to pay for tax cuts for the rich is not sound fiscal policy. These policies can only lead to the ruination of the state and the businesses that exist in it.

Many business leaders recognize the fallacy behind these policies and have pleaded for the repeal of these ridiculous laws. Now is the time for all doctors, lawyers, bankers and business owners to contact their senators and representatives in the Statehouse and tell them to repeal HB 2117.

Yes, tax us. Fix the roads, fund our schools. We need roads and smart people. Not potholes and idiots.

Steven Peschka, Wichita

Another cash grab

Thus far, Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature have swept away the highway fund balance, reduced funding to higher education, battled the courts to avoid funding the public schools, and delayed payment to the state pension system – all in an effort to try to reduce the massive shortfalls created by the elimination of income tax for owners of LLC-type businesses.

Now, Brownback is considering selling the stream of money the state receives from the tobacco settlement of 1998. He wants to collect a lump sum of cash now, rather than receiving an annual payment for 20 or 30 years. This one-time payment would result in less overall money for the state. If the bond payments to the lending financial institution are deficient, Kansas will have a further obligation to make up that deficiency.

This Brownback plan is another cash grab to fill the huge budget shortage created by his tax experiment.

At the next election we need to vote out those legislators who have a mindset similar to Brownback’s. I do appreciate the few legislators who have had the courage to buck Brownback recently.

Jerry Rothe, Wichita

Listen to teachers

Teachers and students are all that matter and all that should have ever mattered. Relieving them of an education system burdened with rulemakers and administrators, who haplessly govern, too often restricting and constraining the creativity of individual classroom teachers, would enable teachers and students to matter all the more.

Not until public school patrons come to understand and appreciate where and how limited resources are so poorly allocated and even misallocated might they begin to demand those resources to be redirected to where they matter most. Education begins with a teacher and ends with a student. Anything else taking up space in the process is a hindrance to the creativity of imagination and spontaneity of actions so necessary to becoming educated.

We all appreciate a need for governance, but my suspicion is that teachers, like many of us, would like to experience less of it in their chosen vocation. It seems teachers of the Wichita teachers union have spoken to it (“Teachers union to board: Consider cuts other than in classroom,” April 26 Eagle). They should be heard and heeded.

Ron A. Hoffman, Rose Hill

Refugee flip-flop

Regarding “Brownback: Kansas withdrawing from federal refugee resettlement program” (April 27 Eagle): On first blush, I can understand “the security concerns” of relocating foreign refugees escaping religious persecution to Kansas. However, with Gov. Sam Brownback’s edict, he has completely flip-flopped on the issue.

When he was a U.S. senator, Brownback championed the idea. Now he has licked his finger and put it to the political winds.

I don’t think the United States should have a complete open-door welcome mat for any crisis. However, when the refugees are vetted and taken in and supervised fully by, say, Catholic Charities or Episcopal Migration Ministries, they can be helped without any ill effect on Americans. Many of the refugees are not necessarily Muslims. They may be Eastern Orthodox Christians or others who may easily adapt and fit into American life.

I agree that national security comes first, but we can still be the legal “melting pot” of nationalities without unbridled panic or fear. We just need vetting and vigilance.

James A. Marples, Esbon

Maize gentrification

Maize was mentioned in “Wichita housing market sizzles as weather warms” (April 16 Eagle). Though it is true that houses are being built and the city is growing, there is a darker side called gentrification. That means older neighborhoods, where medium- and low-income people have lived for years, are being either pushed out or just harassed by newcomers who are buying more expensive homes.

I moved to Maize nearly 20 years ago, and it was a quiet, laid-back small town. In the past few years, wealthier people have moved in, and we now have a new class of people and city officials. They want the city to look like Eastborough.

To make this happen they came up with a “weed ordinance.” It has stiff penalties of up to $500 and jail time for simply having weeds in your yard.

I know many of the older people in Maize are like me. They keep their grass cut, but they don’t fuss about a few weeds in their back ally.

For nearly 20 years I had a small patch of natural plants for wildlife. Two years ago the city demanded I take that out. So I gave in and did that. But the city has continued to harassed me, keeping me in court over tiny weeds and sticks you can only see if you go in my backyard – and I don’t allow people back there.

My wife and I plan to retire in a few years, and we moved to Maize so we could settle down, own a house and live in peace. That may not be possible now.

Steve Otto, Maize

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