Voters in Kansas and Missouri will settle crucial political races and constitutional questions on Tuesday.
Here are selected “hot issues” on the ballot, worth extra attention given how they could affect the futures of both states.
▪ Kansas governor: Democrat Paul Davis, a moderate, pragmatic leader, is the best hope to help Kansas climb out of the hole that the state finds itself in as GOP Gov. Sam Brownback completes his first term.
Brownback’s “real-live experiment” in drastic and poorly targeted income tax cuts has been a disaster. Job growth has not taken off as promised, and the governor is not being honest about looming cuts in education and services. New revenue figures show the state headed into the red sooner than expected.
Also, KanCare, the altered Medicaid program, has serious problems that demand a fresh look from a new governor.
Davis would put the brakes on more tax cuts. His priority is making sure schools have adequate resources to give students a great education. He promises to expand Medicaid eligibility, which would bring federal money into Kansas to help working families and shore up the state’s health care network.
Kansas can’t afford four more years of Brownback. Fortunately, Davis is optimally qualified to get the state back on track.
▪ U.S. Senate: Independent Greg Orman hopes to replace incumbent Pat Roberts in Kansas and bring a more energetic, engaged and representative voice for the state to the Senate.
Roberts’ 18 years in the Senate have found him increasingly marginalized on the right. He spends much of his time grousing about U.S. immigration policies, health care and the supposedly out-of-control federal deficit — which just finished at its lowest level in six years.
Orman could bring a more balanced approach to solving the nation’s problems, including passage of long-term transportation and farm bills. He would be an effective, thoughtful voice in Washington and deserves election.
▪ Kansas secretary of state: Former state senator Jean Schodorf switched parties to be able to provide a vigorous challenge to Republican incumbent Kris Kobach. Let’s hope she succeeds.
Kobach has made his entire first term about voter fraud, a near non-existent problem. As a result of extremist legislation that he pushed, and his bungling of the follow through, more than 23,000 Kansans have registered to vote but won’t be able to because of a lack of documentation proving U.S. citizenship.
Younger voters and those in low-income neighborhoods appear most affected by the bureaucratic barriers Kobach has erected.
Unlike Kobach, Schodorf would be a serious secretary of state, determined to encourage voter participation and build more efficiency into the business-filing process. She would be a refreshing change.
▪ Missouri Constitution: Amendment 6 looks like an early voting measure, but is actually an underhanded ploy by lawmakers who want to keep citizens from ever gaining a meaningful early voting process.
Voters should call their bluff and say NO.
The measure would allow early voting only on six business days, no evenings or weekends and only if the legislature approves the funding, which could mean never. Missouri can and must do better in making voting accessible and convenient.
On other Missouri ballot issues, Amendment 2 would make prosecutions of child sexual assault less onerous on young victims by permitting juries to learn about an offender’s prior record. It deserves a YES vote.
Amendment 3 is an attempt to hinge teachers’ job security on high-stakes testing. It has multiple problems and should be defeated with a NO vote.
Amendment 10 is a vindictive measure aimed at curbing a governor’s ability to manage the budget. Voters should say NO.
▪ Finally, we’d like to point out a couple of “cold issues” on Tuesday’s ballot in Kansas City.
Questions 1 and 2 ask voters to approve sales tax increases that could generate more than $1 billion over 25 years. But the questions don’t tell people how the money would be used. We could find no one supporting these measures. Vote NO on both.