Stop the grab of highway funds
It is devastating to our 80-year-old construction company to see another grab of highway funds from the Kansas transportation program (Jan. 17 Eagle). The gas taxes we pay each time we fill up and a portion of the sales tax are dedicated to building and maintaining streets and highways across our state. Not only do we lose the funds taken, we lose matching dollars from federal gas tax collected at the pump.
How does this affect our company and the many others that do the work? In 2014, Sherwood Construction built a new repair facility, bought a new office building and began the process of moving our company to Tulsa – where they value the taxes paid for transportation and use that money for its intended purpose. We are selling facilities in Wichita and employees’ homes. Gone are the dollars spent on payrolls, goods and services. Recent contracts and bids from other Kansas contractors show other companies also moving to surrounding states.
I would hope our experience with the “highway robbery” in Topeka would be a wake-up call to our elected officials and to those who pay the taxes under the impression the money goes to transportation programs. It’s not millions we are talking about; the money transferred out of the highway fund since 2011 exceeds $1.2 billion, plus the federal match.
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In his 2015 State of the State address, Gov. Sam Brownback claimed that Kansas is the most “pro-life state in the nation.” As CEO of South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita, I agree with the governor that Kansas is one of the most hostile states in the nation to reproductive health care. But the policies that have been enacted in recent years in Kansas have been anything but “pro-life.”
A recent report found clear evidence that states with more laws restricting access to reproductive health care and abortion services had fewer policies to support the health and well-being of women and their families and generally had worse health and well-being scores.
I challenge the governor and the Legislature to make this a state that truly values life. To do that, they will need to begin enacting policies that actually support people’s access to health care, education, jobs that pay a living wage, and healthy food and environments.
Kansas is poised to face significant challenges over the coming year. We need our government to work to address those challenges. If the governor and Legislature continue to pass cruel and pointless reproductive health restrictions, it will hurt our entire state, not just women trying to access reproductive health care.
Instead of asking the upper income brackets to take an adjustment they can still survive on, Gov. Sam Brownback offers no solution to the state’s budget problems but to rob Peter to pay Paul. And by that, I mean that he has robbed the vulnerable and let the richest groups peddle influence and escape paying their fair share of taxes.
Meanwhile, the rest of the nation smirks at Kansas, and Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have less and less confidence in Kansas paying its debts. The downgrades of bond ratings give Brownback’s performance as governor a failing-grade, despite his re-election.
Some voters are so blinded and so reluctant to change leaders that they haplessly continue stuck in a deep (and deepening) economic rut. Kansas needs term limits, but I say one term for governor, regardless of who it is. New ideas and fresh blood would help avoid the pitfalls we now see and hear.
JAMES A. MARPLES
Who is the perfect Kansan, by state definition?
I am asking because every time I turn around there is a new law or tax being enacted or dreamed up. Most of the time the taxes are punitive, which indicates that the politicians know what the perfect Kansan should be like. For example, our noble governor wants to raise taxes on cigarettes and liquor. This chaps my hide.
The state depends on these people. They get taxed more so the rest of us can supposedly pay less.
I can’t get ahead. I buy cheaper stuff to save on taxes. I turn down the thermostat. I don’t go here or there anymore. My quality of life is declining. All just so I can keep ahead of tax increases.
Let’s find the perfect Kansan. Who do you think it should be? Please, no religious deities. It will be difficult enough to aspire to attain the attributes of an avatar, like our governor, let alone a deity.
Shouldn’t libraries be where the people are? What percentage of people live downtown? Who wants to travel downtown when there are branch libraries where information can be sent?
As new housing additions are built, wouldn’t it be better to establish more branches so the information can be near the people? Also, with new electronic devices, is there a growing demand for hard-copy information requiring large state-of-the-art storage space? And, finally, does someone (or more than one) on the Wichita City Council have a vested interest in having a new facility built downtown?
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