To the editor:
I agree that it is nice to talk about the good things our state has
done over the last year. I believe, however, that it is destructive to
ignore the problems and issues we created at the same time.
The rest of the nation has noticed our mistakes and it is time that we start taking
responsibility for them. I don’t enjoy being the bringer of bad news, but I believe it is only fair that we stay informed of both the good and the bad.
• Kansas unemployment increased from 4.8 to 4.9 percent last month. On top of that, Kansas is one of only a few states to lose more jobs than it gained over the last six months.
• Kansas economic growth continues to lag behind the national average and our
state is growing slower than every surrounding state except for Nebraska.
• Tax cuts across the state have undermined our revenue by more than $300
million in the last three months. Job and economic growth have not been
enough to offset the loss of revenue and estimates show that as early as
this fiscal year our state will need to drastically reduce spending or
raise taxes to continue daily operations.
• In their first full year of operation, none of the three KanCare companies
was able to meet the benchmarks set by the legislature.
• The Brownback administration denied more than $300 million of federal
money to expand Medicare. This cost us thousands of jobs and denied many
Kansans access to health care all while sending possible revenue to other states.
• Kansas is the only state to see an increase in the number of uninsured people
this year.
• Kansas infrastructure was given a C- grade by the American Society of Civil
Engineers. Dams and bridges were among our states worst grade recipients
receiving a D- and D, respectively.
• Kansas’s dam safety program has fewer than 10 full-time employees that
each oversee an average of 668 state regulated dams. Kansas has 230 high
hazard dams.
• Kansas continues to be one of only five states that has not restored higher
education funding to pre-recession levels.
• Kansas teachers have lost their due process rights not only eliminating much
of their job security, but also making Kansas less competitive for teachers.
• The state legislature was only “willing” to increase funding for K-12
education after losing a lawsuit. A decision on whether funding
adequacy is in place is yet to be made.
• The state base aid per pupil has decreased from $4,400 to $3,838 in the last
several years.
• Legislation passed in the 2013-14 session undermined labor unions and
other unions ability to partake in the political process.
The nation is taking notice of some of the mistakes Kansas has made over
the last year. It may be easy for us to ignore the facts behind us and
pretend that everything will work itself out. That, however, will not
solve our problems. What Kansas desperately needs is a governmental body willing to work together to ensure that all Kansans are treated
equally. It will only hurt us to bury our heads in the sand. What we
should do and need to do is accept the problems we have created and find an equitable solution.

Austin Harris