September 1, 2014

Legislature needs to focus on work

Each year we become a little more disillusioned with the Kansas Legislature.
Like a child with attention deficit disorder, the state’s elected representatives have difficulty finding focus.
In what has become an annoying tradition, legislators have again missed their 90-day session deadline without balancing the budget or approving a redistricting map as constitutionally required.
Instead, they’ve been preoccupied with their own petty political squabbles, micromanaging taxpayers’ choices and whittling away at property owners’ rights.
The only agenda they seem truly concerned with is their own – however schizophrenic and self-serving that may be.
We grow weary with the posturing, grandstanding and pandering to special interest or lobbyists.
Here’s an idea:
-Balance the budget through proper money management and without hidden tax increases. A federal grant with strings attached is not a solution: it’s a problem, and it’s still our tax money.
-Quit shifting taxes onto cash-strapped residents and small businesses thru IRBs, TIFs and tax abatements. That’s not economic development; it’s a tax shift. Corporate welfare for the big boys is still welfare. It creates a “sharecropper” marketplace in which laborers are paid meager wages, and treated as little more than warm bodies churned through temporary agencies to fatten the profit margins of Wall Street.
-Make redistricting maps readily available for all to see; draw the lines equitably and without thought to getting your buddies re-elected.
-Demand accountability of tax monies from our school districts and adequately fund money used directly for student education – not bloated administrative overhead. Return control to local school districts. If that involves rewriting the finance formula, shut up and do it. The current formula didn’t come down the mountain on a stone tablet with Moses. It can be changed.
Going into this session, the Legislature had two things that needed to be accomplished: balancing the budget and redistricting, but once again, our leaders have used stalling as a negotiating tactic.
Fingers are pointed; blame is assessed; outrage is hurled.
Legislative overtime costs us more than $30,000 a day; for many Kansas that’s a year’s wages.

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