Fix the budget first

At our forum a few weeks ago about this upcoming legislative session in Kansas, it was clear that nothing will get better in Kansas until the budget situation turns around. Last week, a coalition of Kansas organizations ranging from economists to child care advocates to representatives from health care and construction all came together to propose a solution to Kansas' woes. Again, it involved fixing the budget. And earlier today, at a forum hosting advocates and legislators, it was said again: Kansas needs to fix the budget before it can move forward.

Kansas was coming out of the recession when Governor Brownback was first elected, and he offered up a miraculous plan for future prosperity based on the fanciful notions of trickle down economics. It is clear that it has not worked. With the legislature in his pocket for six years, he was unable to make it work. Job growth is stagnant, lagging behind the rest of the country. Revenue forecasts, even when dramatically slashed, never lived up to actual receipts. And programs and services have been slashed, slashed, and slashed again. Now, Kansas faces as much as $1 billion in deficits it must make up the next two years.

The Governor has a plan, he says. He won't say what it is, except to promise, once again, that it won't involve any drastic cuts. Just as he promised that the "path to zero" income tax would float all boats in Kansas. Unfortunately, the boat continues to sink and the tide is made of red ink.

The Rise Up coalition proposed some drastic measures, to be sure. A proposed gas tax would be unpopular. Returning tax rates to a semblance of what they were before Brownback will be reduced to a postcard point, "This person raised your taxes!"

Of course they will have to. Kansas under Gov Brownback is a failed state, a deadbeat debtor, a derelict landlord, a callous warden for her needy seniors and sick. This administration's stewardship has been inept and blind.

Now the adults will have to make the hard choices. Raising taxes on those who can pay for them. Lowering sales tax, especially on food, so those who cannot afford them get relief. Protecting children, seniors, and those unable to care for themselves, a proud promise our American society has made and met for decades under both Republican and Democratic leadership.

The first step will be to fix the budget crisis. $1 billion dollars.

We must support our legislators as they navigate the shoals Brownback has laid for us.

Read more about the budget situation in Kansas, proposals to fix it, and the reaction to those proposals.

Get in touch with your legislators. Make a difference every day in your community.

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