The job ahead
Just last week, the Legislature began digging Kansas out of the tax hole Gov. Sam Brownback forced our state into. Increasing tax revenue was a necessity after the governor cut tax rates to the lowest in the country, including his notorious zero tax on LLCs.
While our schools and infrastructure crumbled, Brownback kept claiming that this issue was really a spending problem, which couldn’t be further than the truth.
Now the Legislature has a bigger task next session: Make sure the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System is funded this fiscal year and in the future. If Kansas does not fund pensions, we could end up like New Jersey and Illinois, which are facing huge unfunded liabilities — all because state lawmakers haven’t made the proper pension payments over the years. We are better than that.
I urge the Legislature to take the next appropriate step: Fund pensions, so we can avoid an even larger fiscal nightmare in our great state.
The Shawnee Mission School District bought semi-automatic rifles but kept the purchase quiet for two years. (June 12, 1A, “Parents are angry that district has assault weapons”)
As a former teacher in this district, I suggest that arming our security to such a degree is alarming. In the case of Sandy Hook, the young assassin was the product of a vituperative divorce, a mother who seemingly could not control her son and a father who dismissed himself from responsibility.
We need to support educating families to behave responsibly in light of divorce and difficult choices. Society’s current mindset of “more guns make us safer” is a simplistic answer to a larger problem: the breakdown of parents instilling in their children basic decent behavior.
Could it be I am simply old-fashioned?
Facts, not fear
Following the grand old Republican tradition of fear-mongering, Bette Grande argued her case against the Paris climate agreement based on unjustified scare tactics — broad threatening claims rather than facts. (June 12, 7A, “Freedom from regulation a boon for Plains states”)
As a research fellow at The Heartland Institute, she should do a little research and base her arguments on reality.
The fact is that costs of renewable energy are nearly on par with fossil fuel sources. And if we consider social costs of using energy technology from two centuries ago, renewables clearly are cheaper.
Research would reveal to her that human-caused climate change is not a “religious-like” belief, as she wrote. It is the nearly unanimous consensus of the world’s scientific community.
She implies that we should not be concerned about conditions 80 years from now. What would she tell our grandchildren in 81 years, while the world struggles to endure problems caused by our recklessness?
Yes, India and China have serious pollution problems, but they are leaving America in the dust when it comes to investing in sustainable energy technology, with the accompanying economic benefits.
Among the world’s largest emitters, the United States has the highest per-capita release of CO2. Is that what Republicans mean by “America first”?
A June 8 letter writer expressed misguided assumptions after observing an “affluent,” ethnically dressed couple in a restaurant. “When people immigrate to our country, they have an obligation to assimilate into our culture, including language, dress and loyalty to the United States,” he wrote.
Since Congress has yet to vote on English as the official language, English is a preference, not an official requirement.
Dress? Jeans appear to be a prevalent choice across ages, genders and socio-economic classes, but certainly not an obligation.
Loyalty? It is the Constitution, bedrock of our democracy, to which citizens owe loyalty.
The letter said, “They have no right to change our culture to coincide with their country of origin.” By wearing a yarmulke, hijab or sari, are individuals automatically expressing a desire to “change our culture”?
I have hosted international college students from Western and non-Western countries, resulting in rich experiences learning about each others’ religions, foods, customs and politics. The rewards are incalculable and have resulted in mutual respect and appreciation.
I invite this writer to be more welcoming to differences to discover similarities. We can let diversity divide us or let it unite us.
Nora Ellen Richard