Can Kansas Move Back From Hyper-Partisanship?
Karen Godfrey - Tue 08:51 AM 08/14/2012
The defeat of several moderate Republican Senators seeking re-election in the GOP primaries left challenges and unanswered questions for many Kansans. While moderate Republicans Longbine, Schmidt, McGinn and Wolf were elected, other supporters of a balanced budget and a healthy Kansas economy were not. What does this mean for the role of government in Kansas?
Kansans must now turn their attention to the general election. To avoid a future of massive cuts to education, social services, public safety, and road maintenance, Kansans will have to elect a legislature in November that will reflect those needs. Otherwise, the Governor’s reckless tax cutting plan - predicted by the Kansas Legislative Research Department to slash as much as $2.7 billion from the state budget in five years - will be on course to be our new reality. Legislators will have to choose one of two outcomes: reduce funding to state services by nearly 40% or raise sales and property taxes to offset the lost funding.
We are in danger of entering a new era that brings Washington-style policy making to Topeka. The dysfunction we all complain about in the nation’s capital has been crafted by politicians more interested in party and ideological purity than the best interests of their constituents. It is reflected in a congress that puts more attention on defeating the other party’s ideas than in addressing the needs of the American people.
This is a shame for a state that has a long heritage of putting people first and party second.
This is the state that produced such Republican luminaries as Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Dole, and Nancy Kassebaum-Baker – Republicans that were not afraid to reach across the aisle to support good public policy. Kansas also produced outstanding Democratic leaders like Robert Docking and Kathleen Sebelius who understood the need to work with the other party. What has proven effective for Kansas in the past is to listen to each other, operate in the light of day, debate respectfully, and seek consensus and compromise. Hopefully the choices the voters make in the November election can guide us in a positive direction.