The good news is the economy in Kansas and the nation continues to improve.
The bad news is our state government is in crisis, and the core functions of government – public safety, sound education and strong infrastructure – are at risk.
Gov. Sam Brownback is in denial and is now proposing dangerous solutions. He wants to raise taxes on beer and tobacco while killing your home-mortgage deduction.
He wants to choke off funding for public education behind a smoke screen of talk about “complex” school formulas and block grants. The bottom line of his “solution” is less money for our schools.
Many of my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats alike, believe these are not answers for rebuilding Kansas. We need to face reality and make the difficult decisions to end this crisis. Kansans have a right to the truth.
We need solutions that we know work:
▪ Return to a sane tax policy that shares the costs of the essential business of Kansas government fairly among all those who benefit from its products of safety, education and infrastructure.
▪ Restore the full home-mortgage deduction, which has successfully helped working families obtain home ownership for decades.
▪ Renew our commitment to funding public schools that works for all students, from special education to honors, from small rural schools to the largest schools in big cities.
▪ Raise the Kansas minimum wage so that no one who works a full-time job lives in poverty and finds themselves unable to provide the essentials of life for their family. An increased minimum wage also helps improve the wages for all Kansans.
▪ Expand Kansas Medicaid and provide health insurance to about 175,000 Kansans who still do not have basic health care. Hospitals around the state tell us that acceptance of Medicaid expansion – something you have already paid for with your federal taxes – is critical for the future of health care. It is the right thing to do for the Kansas economy.
Kansans have faced adversity before. We know what it takes to get through it. With determination and a willingness to enact real solutions, together we can build a better Kansas.
Jim Ward is a Democratic state representative from Wichita.