Opinion Columns & Blogs

When will Topeka look out for the little guy?

Kris Kobach, right, and Wink Hartman.
Kris Kobach, right, and Wink Hartman. File photo

The Lawrence Journal-World revealed last week that former University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little is still receiving more than $500,000 a year in compensation despite leaving her position as head of the university.

Democrats and Republicans alike expressed concern. Legislators from across the political spectrum questioned how, after university leadership claimed they needed more money, and tuition rates on financially-strapped students were hiked, the university could afford to pay for such a sweetheart deal.

Regardless of political ideology, anyone must question the rationale for using taxpayer dollars to fund such a lavish payout.

The business-as-usual attitude in Topeka and in university leadership all too often rewards the politically powerful and well-connected at the expense of hard-working Kansans.

While Gray-Little cashes in on her $500,000 golden parachute, Kansans are saddled with an ever-increasing tax burden required to fund such ill-advised expenditures. Kansans pay some of the highest sales taxes (eighth overall) in the country on food and daily necessities.

Lawmakers will wrestle with the seemingly easy decision of closing a loophole in our tax code and allowing the federal tax cut windfall signed by President Trump to be passed on to Kansas taxpayers. We support the bill (HB 2228) that the Senate passed that will allow taxpayers to keep this windfall. If that bill is not passed, Kansans will actually pay more in taxes, not less. Unfortunately, the Colyer Administration has not called on the Legislature to pass HB 2228.

Out-of-touch insiders who protect the status quo are never going to place the needs of the “little guy” ahead of handing out favors to the politically connected establishment. It is fundamentally wrong for Topeka to continue forcing Kansas taxpayers to pay more in taxes to fund such blatantly unwise spending decisions like the Gray-Little golden parachute.

The hard-working people of Kansas – the ones having to pick up an extra shift or another part-time job to make ends meet – should feel betrayed that their leaders in government are willing to ask them to pay more in taxes to fund such a clear waste of tax dollars. Forensic audits of every state agency could uncover similar abuses occurring elsewhere.

Kansas taxpayers deserve better. There is a reason our sales, income, property and fuel taxes are among the highest in the nation. For years, our state has been run by political insiders who have incompetently managed our government. This has caused an explosion of waste, fraud and abuse that has contributed to a culture of corruption in Topeka. That corruption must end. We are ready to fix it and look out for Kansas taxpayers – even if it means the politically-connected insiders get upset that their taxpayer-funded gravy train has been derailed.

Kris Kobach is Kansas secretary of state and a Republican candidate for governor. Wink Hartman, a Wichita businessman, is his running mate.