As Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback lays out his vision for the state in 2016 and the Legislature prepares to begin a new session, we offer this recap of the year just passed. It wasn’t pretty. Here’s a sampling of how The Kansas City Star’s editorial board members viewed developments in editorials and columns.
▪ How did Kansas become so broke in the first place?
Editorial (Jan. 14, 2015) Milestones of the Kansas tax cut debacle
▪ On paper, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed balanced budgets for the next two years, ending with a reserve fund of $252 million. But his proposals leave the state barely able to meet its statutory obligations, much less invest in its citizens and the future. Kansas will continue to stagger from the Brownback tax cuts.
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Editorial (Jan. 16, 2015): Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget leaves Kansas still staggering
▪ Now playing: another budget scapegoat that’s badly out of tune with the real world of education and the future of the state’s children.
Editorial (Feb. 4, 2015) Leave Sumner Academy’s piano alone
▪ Gov. Sam Brownback’s order this week to remove protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender state workers was shocking and ugly. It will harm Kansas in significant ways.
Editorial (Feb. 11, 2015) Brownback’s ugly edict will damage Kansas
▪ Kansas lawmakers have not yet figured out how they are going to balance next year’s budget, which spends much more money than the state is expected to receive in revenues. Part of the answer undoubtedly involves more plundering of the highway fund and other irresponsible behavior. But they can rest easily, knowing they’ve imposed a modicum of personal responsibility on the poor.
Barbara Shelly (April 2, 2015) When times get tough, Kansas gets tough on the poor
▪ The image of a grown legislator sobbing in the middle of the night would be poignant if it weren’t so symbolically wretched. Surely Republican Rep. John Whitmer of Wichita wasn’t tearing up around 3 a.m. Friday for the Kansas single mom who’ll have to pay more in sales taxes to put food on her family’s table and shoes on her children’s feet. Or for the welder whose tire popped in a highway pothole, which went unfilled because of warped state priorities. Perhaps he was issuing tears of joy for his lawyer and business buddies who will keep their zero income-tax lifestyle intact. Have another round on the Kansas House!
Editorial (June 12, 2015): Kansans will bear the brunt of tax increases backed by Gov. Sam Brownback and GOP legislators
▪ No wonder Gov. Sam Brownback didn’t show up Thursday to announce how he wanted to balance the shaky Kansas budget. Instead, he made budget director Shawn Sullivan attend a news conference and reveal that the state will accept nearly $18 million in federal funds for a program that provides health care for children. That’s right: Washington is coming to the rescue of a governor who’s made his disdain for some federal programs part of his ultra-conservative shtick.
Editorial (July 30, 2015): Thanks, Obama: Feds will help rescue Brownback’s shaky Kansas budget
▪ Around Kansas, teachers and schoolchildren are settling into another academic year. Bus schedules have been worked out, fall sports have kicked off and learning is well underway. But if things are going smoothly in the classrooms, you wouldn’t know that from news headlines and the grenades being lobbed by Gov. Sam Brownback’s office and the Kansas education establishment.
Editorial (Sept. 18, 2015): Gov. Sam Brownback’s feuds with schools harm Kansas
▪ Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s office sent out one of its trademark propaganda pieces on Tuesday, this one on the subject of Medicaid expansion. In its effort to score political points, it maligns low-income Kansans and pits citizens with disabilities against the working poor. As with other recent messages, the email signed by the governor’s deputy communications director, Melika Willoughby, is rife with inaccurate information.
Editorial (Oct. 6, 2015): Gov. Sam Brownback’s missive on Medicaid expansion was wrong, cruel and divisive
▪ Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his supporters have trotted out several excuses for why state revenues are falling short of expectations, which has happened in all three months of the fiscal year that began July 1.
Editorial (Oct. 8, 2015): Thanks to Gov. Sam Brownback, Kansas has too many excuses and not enough cash
▪ The latest downbeat facts about the Kansas economy are at odds with the unrealistic pronouncements spouted by Gov. Sam Brownback. But don’t take our word for it. Check out a federal employment survey published Friday and a report released Thursday by Brownback’s own officials, legislative researchers and economists from three state universities.
Editorial (Nov. 20, 2015): Kansans plagued by a dismal budget short on dollars and hope