Yael T. Abouhalkah

Put Gov. Sam Brownback in ‘jail,’ plus other money-making schemes in Kansas

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback desperately needs some sensible ideas on how to raise revenue and balance the state budget.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback desperately needs some sensible ideas on how to raise revenue and balance the state budget. AP

Kansas lawmakers this weekend are desperately trying to find good ways to raise money to balance the new budget. Gov. Sam Brownback is expected to weigh in soon with his plan to fill the $400 million hole.

All of the proposals likely will include higher gas, cigarette and sales taxes, which normally would be poison pills for Brownback and the Republican-controlled Legislature.

But what if there were other ways to generate funds that could make up for the governor’s ill-advised and money-draining tax cuts from 2012?

Let’s think outside the box.

Put Brownback in “jail.”

No, not a real one, the virtual kind.

You’ve probably seen it before as a fundraising scheme for schools and other groups. They ask a high-ranking person, such as a principal, to go to “jail,” then ask good citizens to step forward with contributions to get them out.

Brownback should volunteer to do that for the sake of Kansas’ future, with a twist.

He ought to pledge to keep his hands off the reins of power until a certain sum of money is raised, say, $100 million.

Who could come through with that much cash to make sure Brownback gets his powers back?

For starters, a lobbyist like his old pal, David Kensinger, as well as Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute. Both want to keep their email friendship with Brownback.

But the real money would roll in from other power groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and Missouri multimillionaire Rex Sinquefield, who’s a big believer in the so-far-failed income tax cuts that Brownback pushed through.

And, for a final push, Kansans could hope that the big boys would roll in with huge wads of dough. You know who I mean: the Koch brothers of Wichita.

Putting Brownback in “jail” could get Kansas a lot closer to being free of the debt that the governor is creating for the state.

Require all Kansans over 17 to own a gun and pay a big fee to do so.

Sure, the Legislature already has made Kansas about as gun-friendly as you can go.

There’s the inane new permit-free law.

And legislators passed a bill prohibiting local communities from enforcing strict gun laws.

But Kansas needs to push the envelope, and requiring all Kansans who don’t have a weapon to go out and buy one — then pay, say, a $100 fee to the state — is a way to do that.

In a state where fewer than 50 percent of residents own guns, Kansas could get several hundred thousand new gun owners in the next year or so.

At $100 a pop, that would be tens of millions of dollars right there.

And don’t try to convince anyone that requiring people to buy guns is unconstitutional. Haven’t you read the Second Amendment?

Make the Gateway to Hell into a toll area.

This is the expanded, multi-lane interchange where Interstates 435 and 35 plus Kansas 10 will converge in Johnson County.

At 25 cents a pop for the 250,000 or so vehicles a day that soon will be roaring through that area, the state could make a cool $40 million or more a year.

Double the fee — a bargain to use such a beautiful interchange — and the revenue could mount to $80 million annually.

What would it take to do that? How about requiring Johnson Countians to have a special GPS monitor in their car, which could be read to record the toll?

That would make it simple to collect the funds. Plus, wealthy Johnson Countians could afford the 50 cents a day that this new fee might cost.

Oh, yeah, repeal the excessive income tax cuts that got Kansas in this fiscal mess in the first place.

Alas, that would make too much sense.

So expect Brownback and the Legislature this weekend to talk about raising all kinds of taxes, and perhaps whacking away at a few more basic services.

These are not fun times in the Sunflower State.

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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