In less than 10 weeks, voters in Kansas will select nominees for dozens of elected positions, including governor and the U.S. House.
They’ll get the usual barrage of misleading postcards and inaccurate TV ads. Those messages should be ignored. Instead, voters should demand substantive answers to policy questions before casting their ballots.
Candidates must address those concerns.
Anyone who wants to be governor should be able to tell voters if schools need additional funding, and if so, how much. In 2008, Kansas spent $4,400 in base state aid per pupil. Adjusted for inflation, that figure should be more than $5,100 this year.
Instead, it’s a little more than $4,000. That’s scheduled to increase gradually, but the Kansas Supreme Court may soon say more money is needed.
At the same time, would-be governors who support additional school spending should explain how they’ll pay the bill.
Is the tax structure in Kansas fair? No. The sales tax on food is still too high.
Candidates should offer a complete plan for taxation in Kansas, including income, property and sales. Voters should be extremely skeptical of those who suggest a repeat of former Gov. Sam Brownback’s disastrous tax experiment.
Candidates will promise transparency during the next couple months, but voters shouldn’t be fooled. Would-be governors must offer specific examples of how they would guarantee full public access to decisions made in the state.
Medicaid expansion is still an issue. The cost and quality of mental health treatment should be discussed. The state’s prisons are troubled. Water and agriculture policy remain concerns.
At forums and debates, voters should raise these issues and should accept only answers that are detailed and unambiguous. Generalities about the “mess in Topeka” should be avoided at all costs.
The races in the Kansas Second and Third Districts are competitive and important. Control of the U.S. House may switch from Republicans to Democrats in 2018, and voters in Kansas will help determine if that happens.
Candidates in both districts should discuss health care. Cost is a bigger issue than insurance: What can be done to bring down the cost of treatments and medicines without limiting choice or offering substandard care? Candidates must be specific.
Gun control and school safety are top agenda items. Candidates who promise an all-of-the-above approach to stopping the bloodshed will deserve the voters’ support.
The new Congress will likely be asked to address infrastructure. How? And which candidates support protections for so-called Dreamers, brought here by their parents and now facing removal?
Is the U.S. headed into a damaging trade war? If so, what can Congress do?
Voters have a short window to seek out answers to these questions and others. We’re confident that they’ll make wise choices if candidates are candid, thoughtful and transparent between now and the Aug. 7 primaries.