As the Kansas Legislature wrestles with the state’s budget shortfall, there appears to be an untapped revenue source just west of Interstate 35 known as Kansas farmland. Of the 60,000 farms in Kansas, most are corporately owned.
Farm property is assessed at such a low valuation that owners pay virtually no property taxes, resulting in a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars to the state’s coffers. Toss in the fact that farmers pay no sales tax on machinery, equipment, diesel fuel, fertilizer, chemicals, seed and much, much more.
Add to this more than a billion federal dollars in farm subsidies paid annually to Kansas farmers, again mostly corporate farms, according to a 2007 report by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
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Kansas farmland is a virtual cash cow, but also a sacred cow protected by the political interests of our elected leaders. That’s why, when it comes to fixing the reckless tax-cutting decisions of the Brownback administration, it’s more politically expedient to slash welfare payments to the poor than to trim welfare doled out to protected classes.
It is ironic that intense faith in any belief can produce in some the virtues of saints and in others hatred, bigotry and violence. For millions in the world, religion is a hope and a consolation.
But for a few, an intolerance of those not like them has led for thousands of years to war, persecution, slavery and genocide. It is sad that extremism cannot move but in one direction.
Kansas gone wrong
Voter suppression laws, open carry without a permit, training or adult supervision, trickle-down economics, draconian sin taxes, regressive sales taxes penalizing the poor for a crime that they did not commit, ignoring federal jurisdiction, endorsing frivolous lawsuits against Colorado at taxpayer’s expense, gutting one of the nation’s better school systems, losing jobs, encouraging a brain drain from the state, eroding the state’s middle class, victimizing the state’s poor, ignoring the state’s infrastructure because of fiscal mismanagement.
All of this because of our governor’s tenacity of choice toward an unworkable plan to eliminate the state’s income tax and make Kansas the Silicone Valley of the Plains — the go-to place for entrepreneurs. Making the state the laughingstock of the nation.
And now, the state has taken an 11-year-old child away from his mother over medical marijuana, invoking the sympathy of the world. Thomas Frank’s work truly echoes throughout this administration and should be the question in every Kansan’s mind these days: “What’s The Matter With Kansas?”
Waiting for response
A Shawnee friend and I were disappointed when a Kansas legislator didn’t return our phone calls. We really wanted to meet with him to ask some serious questions about the Kansas budget.
Our request was polite, and we hoped that by talking with him personally he could help us better understand the complex issues facing the Legislature and we could explain our concerns.
We thought he would be responsive to his constituents during the April recess. Unfortunately the phone didn’t ring, and our questions remain unanswered.
He is back in Topeka, and we are at home wondering why our elected official chose to disrespect his constituents. We do, after all, pay his salary.
I’ve sent the following to the Democratic National Committee staff: When I determine that the president refuses to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership and “Fast Track,” then I will resume contributions to the Democratic Party.
Until then, please continue to inform the president that American workers cannot compete with foreign manufactures who pay their workers 56 cents to $1.17 per hour. Note: Vietnam workers currently produce a famous shoe for under $2, which is then sold in the United States at a tremendous profit.
I’m saddened that most of our Democratic brethren are not aware of the above. My current personal campaign is to inform more of them.
Everyone these days seems to have ideas about how to fix Kansas. This seems to be especially true for countless numbers of folks from across the state line to the east. Retirement works well enough for me here in Kansas, and I could find myself agreeing with the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
A lot of us who live here are happy here. Those of you considering a move here need to check out our plight, and if you find our circumstances do not conform to your expectations, stay where you are and stop trying to help us.
If you live here in Kansas, and just can’t stand it another minute, move, America is a large country with a bunch of states. Surely, there must be one where happiness can be attained.
If and or when I should find myself unhappy with life here in Kansas, I will probably follow my own advice or try to use the ballot box to effect changes more to my liking.
To send letters
Visit the Letters website at kansascity.com/letters to submit your letter to the editor for 913. The website form, with helpful reminders on required information replaces an email address for online submissions. You may also mail letters of up to 300 words to 913 Letters, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd. Kansas City, MO, 64108. Online letters are preferred.