Daily Archives: Jan. 27, 2013

Which direction will state go on ethics?

Gov. Sam Brownback wants to cut funding to the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission by 9.3 percent, and some lawmakers want to curb the commission’s authority. But at least one state lawmaker wants to strengthen ethics rules and enforcement. Sen. Jacob LaTurner, R-Pittsburg, has proposed a reform package that includes term limits (two terms for Kansas Senate and four terms for Kansas House), restrictions on nepotism and lobbying (lawmakers must wait a minimum of two years after leaving the Legislature before doing lobbying work), and additional open-government laws and restrictions (such as limiting how much government bodies can charge to fulfill open-records requests). “The people of Kansas, I am confident, support every provision in this legislation,” LaTurner told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “Every bit of it. It’s going to be a question of if the legislators in Topeka have the courage to regulate themselves.”

Don’t rob early childhood grants to pay for reading initiative

Shannon Cotsoradis, president and chief executive officer of Kansas Action for Children, said that it “defies logic” for Gov. Sam Brownback to want cut $9.2 million from early childhood block grants to help pay for his new “Reads to Succeed” initiative. “We support investments in literacy,” she told the Lawrence Journal-World, “but it doesn’t make sense at the expense of early intervention.” The roots of reading begin in early childhood, and if children don’t start school ready to learn, it is difficult for them to catch up.

Pass tax-credit bill for tornado victims

Good for Reps. Brandon Whipple, D-Wichita, and Joe Edwards, R-Haysville, for getting a fast start on a bill to abate property taxes on homes destroyed in natural disasters. The problem, brought to light by The Eagle’s Dion Lefler last month, is that current law required the owners of the 144 houses and mobile homes lost in April’s tornado to pay a full year of property taxes. That’s unfair and even offensive, making the proposed legislative remedy a no-brainer that should cut across lines of party and geography. It would be better if the measure spared victims from even getting a tax bill, rather than just refunding their tax payments – and better yet if it were retroactive, to help out the 2012 tornado victims. But the bill co-authored by legislative newcomers Whipple and Edwards is a good move that deserves swift passage and the governor’s signature.

So they said

– “I can’t fix everything. I’m not trying to fix everything either.” – Gov. Sam Brownback (in photo), during a Friday meeting with The Eagle editorial board
– “Kansas is the starter gun for tax competition. Brownback fired off the shot that said ‘Go.’” – anti-tax guru Grover Norquist, in a Bloomberg story headlined “Bleeding Kansas Shows Peril of GOP Bid to End Income Tax”
– “In the governor’s mind, if you take two and subtract one you come up with three. It just doesn’t add up.” – Rep. Nile Dillmore, D-Wichita, to Bloomberg
– “I do think it’s hard to be anywhere near Kansas right now.” – Amy Blouin, executive director of the Missouri Budget Project, to Bloomberg
– “It kind of eliminates a large group of Kansans out of that pursuit of happiness.” – Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, quoted in the New York Times about the governor’s tax-cutting experiment