Olathe senator stops Koch-funding inquiry

From The Wichita Eagle

A Kansas Senate committee chairman,  Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, cut off a line of questioning Tuesday about whether Koch Industries had funded an economic study criticizing the state’s renewable energy mandate during a hearing on a bill that would eliminate the mandate.

Lawmakers have wrangled in recent years about whether to keep the renewable portfolio standard, a policy adopted in 2009 that requires utility companies to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

The policy’s defenders say it has created jobs by allowing the state’s wind energy to develop. Its detractors say it undermines the free market, and they warn of electric rate increases.

Ryan Yonk, a research fellow at Utah State University’s Institute of Political Economy, presented research before the Senate Utilities Committee that calls into question assertions that the renewable standard is leading to job growth. The study, published last month, contends that by the end of 2014, the state had gained 5,500 fewer jobs than it would have had the standard not been adopted.

To read the entire article, click here.

Other views:

H. Edward Flentje: Kansas GOP turned back on party history

From The Wichita Eagle

I am indeed a lifelong, card-carrying Republican, born and raised in Republican territory, rural Harper County, in the small farming community of Bluff City.

My affiliation with the GOP led to my work with Republican officeholders in Kansas, as a Cabinet officer for Govs. Bob Bennett and Mike Hayden, and as a legislative aide to former U.S. Sen. Jim Pearson. I have admired the leadership of Republicans at the national level, such as Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan and Kansas’ own Alf Landon and Bob Dole.

I have watched the current crop of Republican lawmakers in Kansas radically depart from what have been core principles of Republicans. Their actions prompt me to ask: What exactly do Kansas Republicans believe? Continue reading

KanCare: ‘It’s a mess.’

Health care aid for low-income Kansans
not ready for prime time

Freelance writer/editor

“Ad Astra Per Aspera,” so the state motto of Kansas goes — “To the Stars through Difficulties.”

Most certainly, KanCare recipients have yet to reach “the stars” of low-income state health care.

But it seems the “difficulties” part of the state motto for me and thousands of Kansans has come with dump-truck loads of petty politics — crushing our faith in the gubernatorial leadership of Kansas. Continue reading

From the Wichita Eagle

The Wichita Eagle reported that in front of a business audience in Wichita, Senate President Susan Wagle called Gov. Sam Brownback a “rock star and personal hero of mine.” She also asked, “Should (the Kansas Supreme Court) be interpreting law?” and “appropriating money?”

Brownback warned that if the state’s Supreme Court justices ruled against the state in the school finance lawsuit brought by several of the state’s school districts, that would trigger a legislative debate on the way justices are selected and suggested the Legislature would work toward creating a constitutional amendment that would be placed in front of voters. Continue reading

Another view…

David Hudnall, with The Pitch, offers his views about Kansas, its politics, and the results of the state’s political climate.

The Pitch‘s guide to Kansas’ shift from far right to very wrong

by David Hudnall

Suicides are up in Kansas — way up.

An October report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment revealed that 505 Kansans killed themselves in 2012, a startling 31.5 percent jump from the 384 suicides committed in 2011.

That sobering increase can be attributed, in part, to ripple effects from the recession. Suicide numbers tend to climb in economically challenging times.

But the spike also correlates to state policy. From 2009 to 2012, Kansas cut 12.4 percent from its mental-health budget — the ninth-largest decrease in the nation over that period. In Sedgwick County, where 88 people took their lives in 2012, the community mental-health center has lost more than half its state funding since 2009.

To read the full article, click here.


Which Kansas is that?

Guest Editorial: From the Wichita Eagle

Gov. Sam Brownback drew the honor Saturday of delivering the Republican weekly address, which is meant to respond to the Democratic president’s weekly address. In the process, Brownback painted an unrecognizable picture of the state after two years of his leadership.

After saying “you change America by changing the states,” Brownback ran into trouble with some specifics of what he called Kansas’ “financial turnaround.”

When he said Kansas went from having $876.05 in the bank to a $500 million ending balance two years later “and did it without tax increases,” he left out the part where a 1 percent sales-tax increase passed in 2010 sustained state revenues and state services as the federal stimulus money dried up and the economy struggled. Nor did he mention that he campaigned against the temporary sales-tax hike in 2010, helped last year to oust moderate Republican legislators who had voted for it and now wants the 2013 Legislature to make it permanent.

Talk about a turnaround. Continue reading

An editorial from the Wichita Eagle

School funding problem isn’t the courts

Instead of following the Kansas Senate’s lead and altering the state’s constitutional requirement to finance public education suitably, House lawmakers should respect why that amendment was approved to start with: The public wanted a higher standard for funding education than whatever the legislative majority happens to decide.

Since its founding, our state has emphasized that education is a public right. That view was reinforced in 1966 when the public approved a constitutional amendment declaring that the Legislature “shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.”

The point of the amendment is that voters didn’t want education funding left up to the whim of the Legislature. They wanted a suitable level of funding to be a constitutionally protected right. Continue reading

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