Rearranging Deck Chairs

It is said that in a democracy, one gets the government one deserves. This week, the Kansas Legislature's House Leadership contacted some elected Representatives, informing them of changes in committee assignments. This is an unusual move in the middle of the Legislature's traditional two-year cycle. And given that the changes removed qualified individuals who have stood up to Leadership in the past, the moves smell bad.

Barbara Bollier, a retired doctor, Don Hill, a pharmacist, and Susan Concannon, an expert on rural health, were all removed from the health care committee, incidentally leaving no women on that committee. Each of these three have supported expanding Medicaid. Last year, Melissa Rooker, a prominent Republican with education expertise was removed from the education committee because she stood up to Brownback's policies. This year it was Rep. Ewy's turn. Similar moves have been made on Appropriations (responsible for any tax changes) and other committees.

Many Kansas voters will argue that this is politics as usual, and that the rank smell is part and parcel of working in the Statehouse. Hold your nose, if that is where you want to be. Kansas government got a failing F grade in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, mostly for having few restraints on executive power, leaving the citizens without any influence.

This is not the government we deserve.

The Governor is consolidating his power in the face of a reality that is not kind to his policies. He is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Kansas is continuing its slide down the Governor's "glide path to zero" into economic insolvency. Every month since he raised sales taxes on every Kansan, the state has missed economic projections. Now, in the wake of the longest, most divisive legislative session in the history of Kansas, we are facing new record revenue lows. This next session will be another for the record books.

So how do we get the government we do deserve?

By exercising the power we do have. By electing representatives who will stand up for us, not for the Governor. By sending politicians to Topeka who share the values we stand for: open government, fair elections, strong public education, responsible fiscal policies, and compassionate care for those in need.

These can be Democrats or Republicans. They can be male or female. They can have purple hair for all we care. But they are the ones who will stand up and speak out for us. This will be key in 2016. Follow MainStream, and we will do our best to guide you as to which candidates match the values you hold dearest. Then it will be up to you to do the work of supporting those candidates.

Do more than vote. 

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