Ever since the Kansas government cut a ton of money from the education budget, schools all over Kansas have been getting worse and worse.
When the governor cut millions of dollars from the budget, people everywhere in Kansas started to complain.
Because most people in Kansas care about children’s education, the cut was not very popular. And cuts in education funding aren’t happening only in Kansas, either.
Education budget cuts have been made in states all around the nation. More than half the states have cut billions of dollars from education budgets.
At this rate, education in the U.S. will get really bad. This could lead to fewer jobs, more homeless people and a bad economy.
We really need a change in our government. We need some more money in our budgets for education.
Action for justice
This is the season when generosity abounds. Providing food baskets and adopting a family are popular choices for expressing that one cares.
The quick gratification of doing good can be at the expense of the receiver’s dignity. Most people want a good job, a livable wage, health care and a retirement fund for their old age.
Charity is brief. Justice is longstanding.
The way to end low wages and living without health insurance and retirement funds is to make major structural and legislative changes.
▪ Support fast-food workers. Walk with them when they protest for a living wage and a union. Learn more from Stand UP KC at www.standupkc.org.
▪ Talk to home-care and household workers. Find out what they need to have a future. Learn more from Missouri Jobs with Justice at www.mojwj.org.
▪ Contact your elected legislators about expanding Medicaid so those without medical coverage can have access to medical care. Learn more from Communities Creating Opportunity at www.cco.org.
None of these actions costs much in the way of dollars, but they do require a serious effort on our part.
Justice levels the playing field.
Justice is about making sure those without have the quality of life that we all want for ourselves. These actions are the gifts that keep on giving.
To Kansas legislators
Before you start cutting the state budget, please show leadership and consider starting with the legislative branch. Maybe you could return to the days of the citizen legislator, when a person was paid for his or her per-diem expenses only.
And, how about conducting the state’s business during the regular session and within the allotted number of days, eliminating the extra days of pay. Office staff numbers could be trimmed by using teleconferencing and Skype from home districts, eliminating frequent trips to the Capitol.
Perhaps now is a good time to take a hard look at legislators’ pensions. If they were citizen legislators, they would have jobs back home and no need for another taxpayer-funded pension.
Each member of the Legislature costs thousands of dollars a year. With a citizen legislature, elected officials could spend more time at home among their constituents, as opposed to being in Topeka.
With hard times and tough choices on the horizon, it would be a welcome gesture and demonstrate leading by example.
When I was an elected official in Salina, Kan., several decades ago, my annual salary was $100. I obviously wasn’t in it for the money.
Supreme Court decisions that corporations have protected speech paved the way for phony social-welfare organizations anonymously financed by rich donors who exert undue influence on elections. A sensible public-financing mechanism offers a better way.
House Bill 20, the Government by the People Act of 2014, uses matching funds to magnify the effect of small donations. A pilot program would test the system in House races in three states. Raising $50,000 in small donations — $150 or less — from 1,000 donors qualifies for matching. At HR 20’s 6-to-1 ratio, $50,000 is magnified to $300,000, enough to begin a campaign.
Introduced by Maryland Democrat John Sarbanes, HR 20 has 157 sponsors but is stuck in committee. Were congressmen such as our Rep. Kevin Yoder to publicly support HR 20, Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, told me he might spearhead a petition to discharge HR 20 from committee through a majority vote, allowing it to go to the floor of the House and Senate.
On Dec. 5, members of the League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, MoveOn, Kansas Natural Resources Council and True Blue Women presented petitions to Yoder’s staff urging him to sponsor HR 20.
Tell Yoder you want campaign finance reform now.
Michael R. Miller, M.D.
Gov. Sam Scrooge
Last week, Gov. Sam Brownback took steps to close the hole in the budget for 2014-15 by making cuts to the people and programs that could least afford such cuts (12-10, A1, “Kansas shortfall prompts cutbacks”).
First was nearly $100 million from the highway fund as well as $1 million from the Kansas Highway Patrol. New construction and repair plans will be canceled, and the patrol states that 60 positions will go unfilled.
I am sure that the projects canceled and the additional safety provided by the the 60 positions on the patrol are not nearly as important as Brownback’s income tax cuts.
The $14.5 million from the children’s program is tobacco-settlement money. I hope this will help the Koch brothers weather the drop in gas prices.
Then there’s the cut to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System of $40 million.
The fund was just saved by raising the contributions of the current workers to pay for the retirement of the teachers and state workers who are already retired.
KPERS has not given a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, in more than 20 years. But it’s now asked to fund the state budget.
Sounds like Scrooge and “A Christmas Carol.” Sorry, Tiny Tim, Gov. Sam needs your presents.
Kansas City, Kan.
Kansas? Bah humbug
Based on the most recent election and the just-released budget cuts and transfers document published by Gov. Sam Brownback in an attempt to rescue Kansas from a major budget shortfall of his and his Republican Legislature’s own making, ’tis the season for me to migrate from “unaffiliated” back to the jolly old Kansas GOP.
This holiday season I will not be making any charitable contributions to organizations that assist the sick, poor, needy children or mentally or physically disabled, or any other organization whose mission is to help the less fortunate citizens of our great state.
If the governor can cut millions of dollars from the Department of Families and Children, I reckon they don’t need my help and are likely just members of the 47 percent, anyway — slackers.
So, thank you, governor, for saving me some money this year. You are still that bright shining star in the west for the nation’s GOP.
And, finally, bah humbug.
Ted Steinmeyer Jr.
Thank you Kansas City Star and Harvesters — The Community Food Network for continuing the annual BackSnack program in December.
I encourage Kansas City area residents to read the daily stories, and you will see how the children benefit and appreciate this program.
I annually dedicate contributions to the BackSnack program in memory of my aunt, who never had children but generously gave to her nieces and nephews.
Donors will experience a level of happiness when they contribute knowing that they have provided food for a child.
Throughout the year, please consider sending contributions to Harvesters because it provides food every week to hungry area residents.
Mary E. Stuart