Monthly Archives: April 2009

Sedgwick County to break ground on new fire station

Sedgwick County will break ground on a new fire station next week.

Commissioners will attend the groundbreaking ceremony for  Fire District #1 Station 39 at 3 p.m. Monday.

The ceremony will take place at 263rd Street West between 31st Street South and MacArthur.

Text of Gov. Parkinson’s address to a joint session of the Legislature

Following is the prepared text of Gov. Mark Parkinson’s speech to a joint session of the Legislature.

Usually, both chambers only meet for special occasions such as the State of the State address in January. This meeting is a little unusual, then again it’s not every day a state gets a new governor late in the session.

Parkinson, a Democrat, was sworn in Tuesday evening as former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius left to take over as the Health and Human Services secretary.

This is his first chance to really address all the lawmakers and outline his goals.

Below is the speech as prepared for delivery.

“At the outset, I want to thank Speaker Mike O’Neal for granting me the honor to speak with all of you in this spectacular chamber. I had the privilege of serving in the House almost 20 years ago and to be back in this magnificent setting is invigorating.

“I also want to acknowledge all the other dignitaries who have taken the time to be here. Thanks to all our legislative leaders: Speaker O’Neal, President Morris, Leader Hensley, Leader Davis. I appreciate all the other legislative leaders for being here and each of you.

“I especially want to thank some groups of people who could not be here today: our brave troops fighting in two wars, including our own Melanie Meier; and the men and women of our public health and emergency management teams. From floods to flu, they are protecting communities across the state and I know you join me in thanking them for their continued hard work. Last but not least, I’d like to thank my wife Stacy for being here. We’ve been best friends, confidants and husband and wife for the last 26 years and she is everything to me.

“In this era of political division, we harbor many differences. We will not see eye to eye on every issue. We will not always agree. We will not. But, we will always share one thing: we share, all of us here, a love for the state of Kansas. Today, I’ve come to tell you all that this common bond will always be stronger than our differences. I have lived here for all of my 51 years and I love the state: our heritage, what we stand for, what we are and what we will become.

“I love our origin. I’m proud that we could have chosen to be a free state or a slave state and that we chose to be a free state. I’m proud that our ancestors migrated here from the east coast, not looking for fame or fortune, but rather to protect freedom. I’m so happy that I grew up in Wichita. As a small child, our two blocks seemed as big as the whole world. We explored, and we felt safe, secure and loved. And later I would become grateful for the education that I received at Heights High School and Wichita State University.

“I loved the time I spent as a child during the summers in Scott City. The economic engines of the state are all over, but the heart and soul of this state is in the West. As I grew older I spent time in every nook and cranny of the state and learned to love it all: the great heritage of Southeast Kansas and the Northeast, where we now live with its incredible entrepreneurs and opportunities for all Kansans. I love that we are the state of John Brown, William Allen White, Birger Sandzen, Alf Landon, Dwight Eisenhower, and Bob Docking.

“Most of all, I love our state motto: Ad Astra Per Aspera. The message that our founders sent us almost 150 years ago has never been more relevant than it is today: though our path may be rife with difficulty, we will reach the stars.

“That is why I’m honored and humbled to serve at a time when Kansas is hurting. You all know the numbers. The state and country are in the midst of the longest recession since the 1930’s. Tens of thousands of Kansans have lost their jobs, our revenues have plummeted, retirees have seen their accounts dwindle and fear is rampant. In spite of this, my message today is one of optimism.

“Throughout history, we have faced challenges that appeared to be insurmountable. The Great Depression, the Dust Bowls and the challenges of two world wars. In each of those occasions, Kansans have not only survived, we have prospered. Make no mistake: we will face and defeat our current economic challenge in the same way we have in the past: with a determined optimism, rooted in the common spirit that pushes all Kansans to the stars no matter what the obstacles. And when we defeat it we will come out stronger and better than before.

“The message of our shared past is clear: our belief is stronger than any doubt; our determination greater than any obstacle; and our passion more furious than any storm.

“State government must play a central role in this turnaround. For us to succeed in defeating this challenge, we must do three things. Our immediate need is to balance our state budget in a responsible way. This will require a post-partisan spirit of shared sacrifice.

“Our current deficit is $328 million. Filling that deficit will not be easy. The number is too large to fill it solely with additional budget cuts. Those cuts, on top of the cuts we have already imposed, would jeopardize critical state programs. Cutting these budgets $328 million would hurt education. But it is more than that. We talk about across the board cuts in numbers and percentages, but behind each of those numbers are real Kansans. Drastic cuts would hurt education, public safety, our corrections system and those that are disabled. And for those who believe business would be benefited by this approach, let me tell you that drastic cuts would diminish economic development efforts and hurt our ability to attract and retain new business to this state. On the other hand, I recognize that $328 million is too large a number to fill the hole solely with revenue enhancements. It would be a mistake to raise taxes.

“Fortunately, there is a middle ground. We need to share the sacrifice and address the deficit with both responsible budget cuts and revenue enhancements. Let me be very specific. On the revenue side, there are about $250 million in enhancements that we can make that won’t raise a single person’s taxes. These include delaying tax cuts, decoupling and recognizing gaming revenue. The good news is that these revenue enhancements don’t require us to raise anyone’s taxes. Tax cuts would be delayed, but no business or person would see their taxes increase.

“Shared sacrifice will then require us to make modest additional cuts to state government. Cuts that will be painful but that will not be crippling. These votes will not be easy. But, they are necessary. And I am confident that you will rise to the occasion and show both the leadership and courage to make the votes to balance this budget.

“This shared sacrifice is the Kansas way of life. When we face a crisis in this state, all Kansans join in assisting the recovery. But no group should be forced to bear the burden by themselves. That’s not the way Kansas works.

“The second action that we need to take as a State is to create and protect jobs. Our unemployment rate has increased from 4 percent to 6.5 percent. Kansans need to know that we are fighting as hard as we can to prevent additional job losses. There are several strategies we have to do this. We must promptly and efficiently put the Recovery Act funds in place. With its investments in education we are protecting jobs. With its funding of new highway programs and energy efficiency programs, we will create jobs. A key priority of this administration will be to continue to get the Recovery fund money working in Kansas as quickly as possible.

“We will protect and create jobs by holding on to previous victories we have had with NBAF and the Base realignment and closure process. NBAF was a great victory and now Texas is trying to take it away. My message to Texas is simple: if you interfere with NBAF, not only will we mess with Texas, we will crush your frivolous attempts to take it away.

“We will create jobs by aggressively pursuing companies that build on our core competencies. I will work tirelessly with our Department of Commerce to assist in its efforts to increase employment in our agriculture, manufacturing and energy industries.

“We will also create jobs for the future. We’ll continue our close work with the Kansas Bioscience Authority to solidify our space in the animal health sector. We’ll work closely with Kansas University to make sure that KU becomes a National Cancer Institute designated center. We’ll also work hard to attract renewable energy companies to the state. Kansas should be a national hub of both wind farms and factories that supply parts to those farms. Working together we will make that happen. This hard work will bear fruit and together we’ll protect the jobs of Kansans as we move through this recession.

“Finally, in order to turn this economy around, we need to unify the state. The time for typical party politics is over. The challenges are too daunting and the stakes are too high. It’s time for all of us, Republicans and Democrats, to forget about party politics. It’s time for us to do what our ancestors have done when faced with great adversity. We will roll up our sleeves, work hard, make the tough decisions and move forward. Not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Kansans, to solve the problems we face.

“I am confident with the legislative leaders that we have in place we will get this done. In President Morris, Leader Hensley, Speaker O’Neal, and Leader Davis, you have provided the State with outstanding Kansans who have placed the best interest of the State ahead of their own. We will make a great team as we move forward.

“I know that we are fixated on the 2010 budget and rightly so. The pain and fear that people are experiencing is real. But there will be brighter days ahead. I’ve learned in business to not just think about the next year, but to think about five, 10 and even 20 years from now. If we make the right decisions, our long term future will be bright. Bear with me as I tell you the vision I have of our future. I can see it as clearly as I can see you sitting before me today.

“In the year 2030, agriculture and manufacturing will thrive in Kansas. China and India will have 600 million new middle class citizens and if we keep our markets open, they will drive demand for our agriculture products and our aircraft for years to come.

“In the year 2030, NBAF will have been built and tens of thousands of high paying jobs will populate the corridor between Columbia, Missouri and Manhattan. Kansas will be known as both the Air Capital of the World and the Animal Health Capital of the World. In the year 2030, we will have fully exploited our wind energy resource in Western Kansas. We won’t have the impressive 1,000 megawatts of wind power we have now, we’ll have 10,000 to 20,000 megawatts of clean, renewable power. Factories will dot the state to supply these wind farms, and a corridor of factories from Wichita to Salina will develop that will make Kansas the renewable energy leader of the country.

“In the year 2030, KU will have received National Cancer Institute designation and all Kansans, regardless of income or status will receive the highest quality of cancer care available in the world. In the year 2030, we’ll have a growing population, made up primarily by increase in our Latino and Asian American populations. We will recognize that these new populations offer us a tremendous opportunity to fill all the jobs left vacant by retirees and that these new populations offer us a whole new group of consumers. Unlike states that shun these populations, we will recognize them as a great opportunity.

“In the year 2030, our K-12 system will be using the latest in technology so that every school child, regardless of where they are from, will receive the same high quality education as every other child in the state. In the year 2030, our regents system will excel. We’ll spend our time talking not just about whether our basketball or football programs are in the top 25. We’ll spend time talking about whether our medical schools, engineering schools, and undergraduate programs are in the top 25.

“All of these things can happen. You can make them happen. If we set aside the petty politics that permeates this country, and instead pull together, this vision of the future isn’t just the musings of an aging politician. This vision of prosperity that I’ve laid before you is our destiny.

“I close with a quote from Winston Churchill. During the worst of WWII a reporter asked Churchill if he was worried about how history would be treated. Again, he took no time and quickly responded.

“Churchill said, ‘History will be kind to me because I intend to write it.’

“Tonight, we open the next great chapter in our state’s history. Be certain: the title of that chapter, like so many great ones before it will be Ad Astra Per Aspera.

“Decades from now, our children and grandchildren and their children will look back and ask how we responded to the greatest crisis in 70 years. Did we panic or lead? Did we retreat to partisan interests or embrace shared sacrifice? Did we bicker or did we set aside party politics to work together as Kansans? I know the answer to each of those questions because I have confidence in each of you. I know that despite our differences, we share love for Kansas.

“So, let’s not just name this chapter with our great state motto, let’s get to work writing a history that all future generations can be proud of. God Bless each of you, this State and our great Country.”

Parkinson to hold first press conference as governor on Friday

TOPEKA – Newly minted Gov. Mark Parkinson on Friday will hold his first media availability since being sworn in late Tuesday.

The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. This afternoon, Parkinson, a Democrat, will address a joint session of the Legislature at 4 p.m.

Parkinson assumed his new roll when former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius resigned to be sworn in as Health and Human Services secretary on Tuesday.

Karl Peterjohn’s ponders first 100 days in office

Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn recently wrote about his first 100 days in office.

Here’s what he had to say:

I have just completed my first 100 days as an elected official.  In my first 100 days as a Sedgwick County commissioner representing almost 100,000 people I learned a number of things and I will try to mix some humorous observations with the huge and catastrophic challenges we face as a country and how this will impact our future.  I will also point out how this is impacting us at our state level.

Washington is on a spending spree as we have now become “The Peoples Republic of the United States.”  I never thought that I would live to see such a day.  The era of big government has arrived empowered by the political steroids of Moveon, a credulous and sycophantic news media, and the powerful education/cultural establishment that excuses every teleprompter flub from Obama.

A significant chunk of this spending largess is now flowing to local units across the country.  Washington is telling local units to jump on the fiscal accelerator and begin to spend, spend, spend.  The return on this spending is likely to be as successful for us as it was for Japan a decade ago.

In my state of Kansas the legislature will begin meeting April 29 to find a way to fill a budget gap of approximately $328 million or about 5% of the state General Fund.  State funds for local units: counties, cities, and even the usually politically sacrosanct government schools are facing reductions in state funds.  State to local units: jump on the fiscal brakes.

It is not clear to this freshly  minted county commissioner that the local units in Kansas as well as all of the other states where state spending is being reduced will have a political transmission, if you don’t mind this auto metaphor, will survive jumping on the fiscal brakes and accelerator simultaneously.  This is budgetary schizophrenia.

We have not yet begun to see the impact of the Obamanation’s program.  If you look at history, the closest example I have found is the accension of socialist Clement Atlee as Great Britain’s Prime Minister succeeding Winston Churchill in the summer of 1945.  Atlee created the health rationing and socialized medical system that has proven Winston’s comment that socialism was, “…the equal sharing of misery.”  This past prophesizes our future.

Atlee socialized all of the major industry sectors and made the U.K. the “sick man” of Europe for almost two generations until the arrival of Maggie Thatcher in the late 1970s.  These included financial, energy, communications, transportation, and manufacturing government takeovers.  Does this sound familiar to the edicts coming out of Washington as the government “czars” take over wide chunks of the nominally private sector.  The president who bailouts can now give the boot to the newly renamed, “Government Motors” former CEO.

As a local official, we have been struggling with getting our flood control recertified.  Formerly, this was conducted by the fed’s Corp of Engineers, but Washington has now given this to FEMA who did such a great job with Katrina a few years back.  Ha ha.  We now have two agencies looking at our important local flood control resource.  None of the $788 billion is available for spending on our city-county floodway.  Wichita and Sedgwick County will have to spending millions of our local tax funds to meet post-Katrina federal demands while areas where massive floods are occurring this year, will be re-certified after us.

Local tax revenues will not grow since Washington has clobbered anyone busing corporate jets, a major product in our community where Learjet, Cessna, and Hawker Beechcraft all produce a large chunk of these aircraft.  Wichita still produces the most premier corporate jet that has not been criticized on capitol hill but is in fact envied by all the members of congress: Air Force One.  Unemployment has rapidly grown as the political assault on the aircraft industry has led to massive aircraft layoffs this year.  Government luxury aircraft are envied while private sector aviation is vilified.

This is only the beginning of the bad news.  Obamanation’s advocates tout his $10 a week “tax cut,” that was part of his alleged “stimulus” package.  However, this highly publicized “tax cut” is going to be more than offset by a number of massive tax hikes that are inevitable when you quadruple the already large federal deficit from $400 billion last year to over $1.6 trillion now.  Here’s how:

The inflation tax is going to be huge.  You cannot inflate the currency without degrading the purchasing value of the dollar.  The fed can monetize an infinite amount of dollars without even turning on the printing presses in the age of digital cash.  A $1 trillion cash creation has made the federal government the largest counterfeiter in U.S. history.  Inflation will raise its ugly head and the dollar, which has lost over 95% of its value since the fed was created in W’s administration will once again shrink.  This will get ugly quite quicky.

The fraud of “cap ‘n trade,” should be fully exposed as “tax ‘n raid,” on consumers wallets and purses.  Utility costs will double and then double again with the carbon phobia facilitating the takeover of the economy in industrial sectors where other means, like TARP do not yet reach.  The tax ‘n raiders on capitol hill have already spent this money and need a new honey pot.  If congress does not pass this, the international community will be happy to impose a new charge as the price for not criticizing us continuously anymore.

Socialized medicine will require new taxes.  Lots more taxes will be mandatory.  The massive tax hike on cigarettes can barely start to pick up this tab.  This will require more taxes: either income or payroll tax hikes or more likely both.

The damage being done domestically seems to diminish a bit when Obama goes abroad.  It might cost millions to keep Air Force One flying every hour, but the fiscal damage he does in the air seems much lower than when he is at the White House.  When Obama begins to bash America and suck up to Castro, Chavez, and the cream of all of the slime that rules abroad this is going to lead to problems that will plague America in ways that far exceed the most damaging flu pandemic this country has seen in the last century.  I am referring to the 1918-19 flu pandemic that killed tens of millions of people.  Time will tell how bad this new problem will be.

You will be poorer in the years to come if you are like most Americans.  The economy is already deflating like overcooked Yorkshire pudding.  The first 100 days are only the beginning of our “change we can believe in.”  The recession will continue and this economist now expects our economic stagnation to become as long lived as the economy in this country suffered in the 1930s.  There is a reasonable case to be made that it can and will be worse.

Oh yes, I promised some humor.  I have to sign my name a large number of times as an elected official.  The document I sign most often are the reductions in appraised value when property owners successfully appeal the valuations assigned by the county appraiser.  As the former head of the Kansas Taxpayers Network until I took office, I now am an elected official making the property tax valuation reductions legal.

At the courthouse, my jokes are now about as funny as Jay Leno’s best.

The famous essayist, Albert Jay Nock said a long time that someone should write a good essay about what it is like to live in a Dark Age.  This is my best effort.

Flu prompts Chinese delegation to postpone Wichita trip

A delegation from Wuxi, China, has postponed a trip to Wichita, citing travel concerns about the swine flu outbreak, the city of Wichita said in a news release today.

The group had been scheduled to arrive May 5 and tour local companies May 6. The visit was to include the signing of a letter of intent about an EcoPartnership between the two cities. The trip is expected to be rescheduled.

A separate group from Kaifent, China, still is scheduled to arrive in Wichita on Friday, the release said. The delegation from the Peoples Congress is set to visit public facilities and participate in River Festival.

Sebelius’ farewell remarks to Kansas

There were no fond farewells last night from former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as her successor, Gov. Mark Parkinson, was sworn in.

Sebelius was already off to Washington D.C. to be sworn in for her new job as Health and Human Services secretary, when Parkinson took his oath of office.

But apparently, Sebelius was thinking of Kansans and today her former office posted her farewell remarks on the governor’s website which still bears her mug. There is also a video available on the site.

Following is the transcript of her farewell remarks:

Over 34 years ago, a young Kansan returning to his home state to practice law asked me to marry him and move to Kansas. I said yes, and left my job in Washington D.C. to marry Gary Sebelius. And I have loved every step of this amazing journey.

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Legislature’s wrap up session starts

TOPEKA – The Statehouse parking garage is full again, which means lawmakers are back in town.

The wrap up session starts today. Typically these mini sessions last only a handful of days. Legislators come back, tweak the budget and take a crack at overriding some vetoed bills.

This year is likely to be a little different. Facing a $328 million deficit, lawmakers are likely to use a combination of cuts to state programs and revenue enhancements to fill the gap.

That process is likely to be more contentious than adding money to key projects, which is typical in a good year.

Legislators are also likely to have at least two veto override attempts. One for a bill allowing the construction of two coal plants in Western Kansas and a second aimed at bolstering the state’s late-term abortion law.

Text of Sebelius’ resignation letter

Text of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ letter of resignation submitted Tuesday to Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh:

Dear Secretary Thornburgh: It has been my extraordinary honor and privilege to serve the people of Kansas as governor. I look forward to serving Kansans, President Obama and the rest of the nation in my new role as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Please accept this letter as my official resignation from the office of governor effective today, April 28, 2009, upon my confirmation as health and human services secretary by the United States Senate. Sincerely, Kathleen Sebelius

New Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson is sworn in

Kansas Governor

Here are the prepared remarks of new Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson at his swearing-in ceremony tonight:

“At the outset, I want to congratulate Governor Sebelius: first, for her 23 years of outstanding public service to the State and second, for her confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services. She has served the state well and will serve both the state and country well in her new position.

“I am humbled and honored to serve as Governor of Kansas. I love this state and am excited to have the opportunity to serve during a time of real need.

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How senators voted on Sebelius’ confirmation

Here, from the Associated Press, is how senators voted on Kathleen Sebelius’ confirmation to be HHS secretary.

The 65-31 roll call by which the Senate voted to confirm Kathleen Sebelius as the nation’s health and human services secretary.

On this vote, a “yes” vote was a vote to confirm Sebelius and a “no” vote was a vote against it.

Voting “yes” were 54 Democrats, 9 Republicans and 2 independents.

Voting “no” were 0 Democrats and 31 Republicans.

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