The Legislature returns to work this week, with a budget deficit of almost $300 million over the next two years, schools in jeopardy of being closed because of consistent underfunding, and former allies running away from Brownback as fast as they can. This session, and the election it leads up to, are generating an enormous amount of interest. This election is projected to have very high turnout, and people are beginning to show an interest in what is going on, not just on the national level, but in their own states and districts.
Into the middle of that comes an article about how to handle political talk in the workplace. It is slanted to a national perspective (feeling the Bern to be Great Again, or something) and it offers some advice about playing nice and bowing out of arguments gracefully.
We think workplace political discussions are great. As are dinner table discussions, and over the fence discussions, and Sunday morning coffee discussions. Fourth of July barbecue discussions. In line for stamps discussions. Waiting for the school bus discussions.
But the key here is to discuss. Not to rant, or to dismiss uninformed opinions. Be an informed voter, and get others to vote. When someone tells you that they read Kansas has spent more on education every year for the past four years (KPI), do you know what to say? It's true, but not the whole story. Those increases come mostly from moving funds that used to not be counted as "education funding" under the umbrella, like retirement funds for teachers. So while the dollar values are going up, the money spent educating our kids is going down. In a bill proposed a few weeks ago, the state would spend even less on schools, while claiming more money is going to education because property taxes will rise to cover what the state does not (administrative costs, extra curricular activities, and food service). This skews the burden to property taxes, and disadvantages kids in poor communities.
So, how do you become an informed voter? Attend events where your topics are being discussed. Visit with your representative (see the Legislative section below) and ask them questions. You pay them, they work for you. Watch our forums at the links below. Read the news and ask questions. See our page on getting informed.
And how do you get involved? We will certainly take your time and money, no question. But you can become involved, too, by talking with your family and neighbors. By making a plan to vote, and asking five friends to join you. Make it a voting party! By requesting an advance ballot, which provides a paper trail, and getting advance ballots for your friends. Then leading up to voting day, you can volunteer for the candidate of your choice. See our page on getting involved.
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Primary elections are on August 2nd, 2016. Plan to vote then and again in November. Candidates must file by June 1, 2016, and at that point, we will know who is running and what primaries will be most important. Keep in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, and by email, and we will keep you up on what is happening.
Forums on the Issues
During the legislative session, we have held for education forums on topics of importance to the state of Kansas and Kansans. They were incredibly well attended, with the hundreds of Kansans showing up indicative of the overwhelming interest in this year's elections. On top of that, we streamed the events live on the Internet, and they are available on demand on our Youtube page.
Kansas Politics: What to expect in 2016, Nov 5, 2015 - Watch our annual kickoff event, where political science professors Michael Smith of Emporia University and Burdett Loomis of KU talked about what they anticipated for this current session. They were both salty and yet excited for the energy in the crowd and the number of declared candidates in the room.
Public Education in Kansas, Mar 1, 2016 - This forum on public education, and the crisis in education financing, featured Reps. Melissa Rooker, Nancy Lusk, and Jarrod Ousely. We had hundreds in the room, and the energy was palpable. Our guests pulled no punches, and are strong supporters of public education for all Kansas children.
Begging, Borrowing, and Stealing: A Forum on Kansas' Failed Tax Plan, Mar 31, 2016 - Please pardon the audio quality on this recording, we had issues at the venue. Our guests were Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore, and from the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, Annie McKay and Duane Goossen, twelve years Kansas State Budget Director under several governors. Their message was stark, but one we must heed.
Overthrowing the Kansas Courts: Brownback's attempt to usurp the third branch of government, Apr 21, 2016 - And just last week, we had former Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, and Ryan Wright, from Kansans for Fair Courts discussing the peril before our system of checks and balances. They argue, rightly, that the retention of judges may be the most important vote a Kansan can cast this year.