Daily Archives: Jan. 2, 2013

Delegation divided on fiscal-cliff deal

The Kansas congressional delegation was divided on the fiscal-cliff agreement. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran took the pragmatic approach that the compromise was better than going over the cliff and raising taxes on everyone. “While this deal is not the comprehensive solution I was seeking to America’s debt crisis, delay or inaction on taxes would have only harmed our economy, damaged retirement savings and penalized Kansans of all ages,” Roberts said in a statement. But all four House members voted against the deal. “I cannot support it without amendment,” Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, said in a statement, citing the delay in spending cuts and “more crony capitalism.” Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said: “This is just another deal by Washington insiders – with no real solutions.” The deal kept the Bush-era tax cuts in place for everyone except individuals making more than $400,000 a year and households earning more than $450,000. It also postponed spending cuts for two months, allowed the temporary payroll-tax cut to expire, extended unemployment benefits and the farm bill, and prevented sharp cuts in Medicare reimbursements. It doesn’t include any changes to Medicare and Social Security, the main drivers of the nation’s long-term debt problems. And the decisions to postpone the automatic budget cuts and not extend the debt ceiling merely mean that there will be another protracted fight next month.

Senators should be helpful in filling Kansas seat on 10th Circuit

President Obama’s re-election means he has the responsibility to fill four seats on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, including a Kansas seat that’s been open since Deanell Reece Tacha resigned from the court nearly two years ago. This time Kansas Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts need to be partners with the White House in making the right pick. Kansas doesn’t need a repeat of 2011, when the senators inexplicably blocked former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six from even having a confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I think if the White House consults the senators they can find a consensus nominee,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor. Correction: Six’s nomination was blocked after his confirmation hearing but before the Senate Judiciary Committee could hold a vote.

Good work on campus maintenance

Exemplified by the Kansas State University power plant’s “Frankenstein Room,” where employees had used a 10-foot wooden pole to safely flip switches, the state’s problem of deferred maintenance on campuses seemed too big and costly to solve a few years ago. But the Legislature’s multiyear strategy involving bonding and $46 million in federal stimulus funds is having some success, reducing the backlog from $904 million in 2011 to $800 million currently. “We have seen a significant decrease in our backlog. What I think it is we are seeing is the money pumped into this has really made a difference,” Eric King, director of facilities for the Kansas Board of Regents, told the Lawrence Journal-World. Even better, the expectation since 2007 is that the funding of new projects will include future maintenance. It’s good to see the state and other stakeholders working to take better care of the state assets on college campuses.