Brownback’s budget misses the mark

A blog by former Kansas Budget Director Duane Goossen

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Duane Goossen served as the Kansas Budget Director for 12 years in the administrations of three governors — Republican Bill Graves and Democrats Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson.)

What to do? Income to the Kansas general fund has fallen so low that it no longer comes close to supporting normal, reasonable expenses, and the bank account is empty.

The governor (Sam Brownback) has sent the Legislature a proposed budget to address the situation, but his recommended solutions do not strike at the cause of the crisis.

Here’s the problem: Kansas general fund expenses currently total about $6.4 billion, and those expenses are growing. They will continue to grow. To cover expenses, Kansas needs a revenue stream that is also at least $6.4 billion and growing. But the Brownback tax policies, put in place in 2012 and 2013, cut income tax receipts dramatically. The governor’s own Department of Revenue estimates the loss of income tax revenue to be $886 million in this fiscal year, and more next year. As a result, overall general fund revenue has fallen below $5.8 billion. Under current policy, prospects for that income stream to increase remain slim.

To read the entire blog, click here.

Other views…

MLK’s dream burning bright

But promise of equal opportunity ‘great unfinished business’

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

Standing in the shadow of the great emancipator, President Barack Obama on Wednesday stood exactly where slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. did 50 years earlier to “awaken the slumbering conscience of America.”

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Obama borrowed heavily from King’s 1963 “I have a dream” speech to chronicle the rapid societal changes the landmark oratory set in motion for America’s excluded minorities.

It wasn’t just a black thing. It was a Latino thing. An Asian thing. A women thing.  A gay thing. A Catholic thing. A Jewish thing.

And it was a people with disabilities thing, the President of the United States told tens of thousands of Americans from all walks of life on a rainy day in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

An editorial from The Hays Daily News

Where are we headed?

Until an investigative reporter for the Wichita Eagle uncovered a massive discrepancy in the numbers Gov. Sam Brownback was touting, the state’s chief executive was able to boast of the remarkable turnaround Kansas was experiencing since he entered office.

Crediting his administration for enacting $2 billion in budget cuts in presentations around the state, the governor began offering other reforms to downsize and streamline government. At the top of Brownback’s wish list was a dramatic cut in state income taxes. Other big-ticket items included less interference from the judicial branch, more control over the distribution of education funding, not only a refusal to expand the Medicaid program under the federal health care overhaul but privatizing the administration of the state network, a reshuffling of departments, and further calls for going down the “glide path” to zero state income tax. Continue reading

Johnson Countian critical, skeptical of KanCare program

Submitted by Finn Bullers,
Former Johnson County Government Reporter
for the Kansas City Star and now
a consumer advocate for people with disabilities.

While state leaders work to knock out the kinks in the state’s new managed-care system for some 380,000 Kansans, first responders in Johnson County Monday, Jan. 28, had to revive a Prairie Village man choking on his own phlegm and gasping to breathe — me.

At 10 a.m., Johnson County Med-Act responders arrived at my home.

Within minutes, rescue workers performed deep suctioning to remove accumulated phlegm blocking my airway, a result of bureaucratic tangles with the state leaving me without skilled-nursing services and ongoing wound-care treatment. Continue reading

Falling through the cracks of KanCare

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was submitted by Finn Bullers, former Johnson County reporter for The Kansas City Star.)

Dear Chuck –

All reports out of Topeka say everything is grand as the state moves forward on its “historic state reorganization” of Medicaid under the banner of “KanCare.”

But $1 billion in taxpayer savings is taking a toll on Medicaid recipients, who are paying the price for the political expediency and conservative dogma that says saving dollars is a higher priority than saving lives. Here is my first-blush impression of KanCare and how it is affecting me and my fellow Kansans who must rely on the state to survive. Continue reading

Johnson County Election Commissioner’s blog diary

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby has a blog called Election Diary. We urge you to take a look.)

You may remember that I suffered a broken ankle, with surgery needed.

I’ve been awaiting my time with THE ankle guy, and I’ll be wheeled into surgery tomorrow morning.  Crutches for a couple of months–at least our election flurry is over.  I’m hoping this is the ultimate, “Measure twice, cut once,” moment.

What this has done is set up three phases for the first half of my year.  The first phase is over: pre-surgery, April 11, where I focused on wrapping up everything with our spring elections……

To read more, check out Brian’s blog by clicking here.

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