In the same boat

Before we get into last week's (in)action in Kansas politics, we'd like to take a moment to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the work he championed. In particular, one quote of his says, "We may have all come on different ships, we're in the same boat now." This sentiment is one that MainStream fully embraces in everything we strive for.

Responsible policies are those that recognize that they affect every Kansan, and do not shirk from the responsibility of caring for all of us. Every child, in school, in the hospital, in foster homes and in their communities. Every senior, be it their health, their welfare, their security. Every woman, whose very life is often affected by legislation, be it on reproductive rights, domestic violence, access to higher education, or equal pay for equal work. For every man, too, of every race, that they not have economic opportunities stripped from them by needless government cuts. MainStream works to educate every Kansan on these issues, advocates for effective, compassionate, transparent and responsible policies, and works to elect leader who understand that compromise is not a failure, but a strength. We are all in the same boat. Thank you, Dr. King.

Last week in Kansas politics was... meh

Oh, there was a lot of news, just not a lot of action. The Governor delivered his State of the State Speech. His budget director delivered the Governor's plan to balance the State's funds. And yes, the Legislature voted on some procedural motions.

In his speech, the Governor disappointed again with his rosy outlook that ignores the state of our schools, our rural communities, our health care and our economy. If you watched it, you know he did not veer from his previous stance, and he refused to offer any real policy ideas. Several of his comments bordered on ludicrous, including his urging state Universities to reduce the price of a four year degree, when his own cost cutting policies have forced those prices higher.

When Budget Director Shawn Sullivan showed up the next day at the Legislature with the Governor's proposed budget in hand, it was again more of the same. No reasonable plan to recoup some of the losses from the "March to Zero" tax boondoggle. Instead, he proposed more spending cuts, from a state already selling off assets, taking taxpayer property, and borrowing against downgraded credit to pay for previous cuts. And primary among the Governor's plan to pay for it? A one-time windfall from the sale of the Children's Initiative Fund money. Every year, Kansas reaps hundreds of millions of dollars from the Big Tobacco settlement. The Governor proposes to sell those rights off, in return for yet another one-time fix. Early education has been proven to lift the economic future of our communities. It is almost as if the Governor is just trying to get to the end of his tenure by any means necessary, leaving the real work to those who come after.

Well, already some of those ready to do real work are in Topeka, working to counter his proposals. Legislators, new and old, have been sent to the Statehouse by Kansans to fix what is wrong with the state. Last week, they voted on procedural moves designed to make government a little more transparent. Those moves were voted down, almost completely along party lines. This is not concerning, yet, for while these moves were good ideas we support, they amounted to drawing lines in the sand.

At MainStream, we are most interested in seeing legislators working together across those lines, not pointing them out and staking flags on either side. The people of Kansas are watching.

The people stood up

Hundreds of citizens from all over the state rallied on Wednesday last week at the Capitol for equality, compassion, schools, and action. It was loud, boisterous, inspiring, spiritual, and above all, showed that all over Kansas, people are concerned about their government's actions. We expect there will be many opportunities to go to Topeka this session. Stay tuned for more.

This week will see real action

Already today we have seen the introduction of bills to change and repeal the reckless concealed carry laws that are poised to allow weapons on college campuses. We have actions lined up to expand health care for those Kansans who have none. We have country-wide rallies on Saturday, including in Topeka, to promote equality and protect freedoms. We expect more bills will be revealed this week and next, as the Legislature gets down to the business of taking the Governor's shovel away. And, while we don't know when it will happen, we could see the Kansas Supreme Court's decision on school funding adequacy. Stay tuned to our Twitter feed (or our curated news feed) and our Facebook page, where we will post about anything that happens.

Remember to do more than vote: listen, learn, engage, and speak out.

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