While extremists in Kansas galvanized their troops, the majority of Kansans — judging by low voter turnout — tuned out.
As a result, the extremists have come to power and enacted massive changes.
The word du jour is “massive.”
Kansas passed massive tax cuts in 2012. It was a massive experiment.
As a result, Kansas ran up massive deficits.
The governor warned of massive budget cuts, if the Legislature did not increase taxes.
And now Kansas has passed the most massive tax increases in its history.
For a piddly little state, that sure is a lot of massives.
That is not likely to be the last use of massive when talking about Kansas.
When the next recession hits, there likely will be a massive shortfall in sales tax revenue. Something painful will have to be done to deal with deficits. Just wait and see.
The reason there are so many massive events is because of the radical shift in policy under Gov. Sam Brownback and his hand-picked Legislature.
The Kansas I have known all my life — until a few years ago, at least — was one that valued stability, cherished public schools, was proud of its higher education, took care of its highways and was sympathetic to the needy. It was truly a state where common sense prevailed.
The state moved gingerly and steadily, year after year.
No more. A revolution has occurred.
Things in Kansas have not been so bad that a revolution was required. In fact, things have been pretty good.
So where are all those Kansans who had no appetite for massive changes?
If you want to understand what has happened to the state, take a look at its most populous county, Johnson County.
According to every survey conducted, the citizens of Johnson County love their community. They are extremely pleased with their high quality of life. They do not feel overtaxed. And they trust their local elected officials.
Yet, whom do they send to Topeka to represent them?
Legislators who want massive change, such as slashing spending on public schools. Legislators who hold higher education in low regard. Legislators who want to change local government by intruding into the way people are taxed at the local level. Legislators who are ideologues with a totally different agenda from the folks who are happy living in their neighborhoods.
One example within Johnson County illustrates all that is wrong.
Blue Valley School District patrons — who are fanatic about the quality of their schools — actually send to the Legislature people who are anti-public schools. Either the voters are not aware of what they are doing, or schools are of lesser importance than I think they are.
It sounds crazy, but it’s true.
And I would bet the vast majority of people who live in Blue Valley think their legislators are strong proponents of public schools. That’s probably because few actually follow the voting patterns in Topeka.
There is a total disconnect between the majority of citizens and those who represent them.
The massive changes that are whipsawing Kansans — — are occurring while the uninformed wonder how in the world this all could have happened.
Perhaps things have gotten so bad, alas, the majority may decide to finally tune in.
To reach Steve Rose, longtime Johnson County columnist,send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.