Daily Archives: Feb. 26, 2009

McGinn’s death penalty opposition garners national attention

TOPEKA – Sen. Carolyn McGinn’s effort to abolish the death penalty to save money for cash-strapped Kansas is garnering national attention.

The Sedgwick Republican was interviewed Thursday for a segment that is scheduled to run 5:30 p.m. Friday on the World News with Charlie Gibson, she said.

McGinn’s Senate Bill 208 would abolish the death penalty for cases sentenced after July 1.

Kansas is one of eight states considering such a measure. While the state reinstituted the death penalty in 1994, no one has been executed since 1965.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first day of hearings on the measure Thursday and will hear more testimony Friday and could vote on sending the bill to the full Senate for debate.

Supporters of the bill say evidence shows death penalty cases are costly to prosecute and do not deter crime. Opponents say the state should retain the option of a death penalty case for the most heinous crimes.

With 42 states facing deficits in their upcoming budgets, more lawmakers are looking for ways to save money. Kansas could be $1 billion in the red for the 2010 budget year which starts July 1.

“People are starting to dig deep into the budget to see what laws we have on the book and are they doing what we set out to do,” McGinn said.

Muni bonds a bright spot for some investors

CoinIn mid-January, we reported that Wichita locked in some low interest rates on about $112 million in bonds, which means less taxpayer cash is paying interest. That came despite the nasty trends in the stock market.

It looks like the trend is holding, according to an article in The New York Times. Here’s a slice of the story:

Investors should stick with high-quality munis, including bonds issued by state governments, well-run cities and agencies that provide essential services like water, power and mass transit, said Aaron Gurwitz, the chief investment officer of Barclays Wealth Americas. And they should avoid muni bonds issued by the kind of smaller entities with low credit ratings — or in some cases, no credit ratings — that dominate most high-yield municipal bond funds, he said.

Wichita lets bonds twice a year. Last fall, finance officials were fretting that poor rates could mean killing off some city projects. But they said no one could be sure until the bond sale in January. When the date came, they ended up with more favorable rates than in past years. For more, read The Eagle’s story about the bond sale… Read More »