Daily Archives: May 6, 2013

Protestors have work cut out for them

The overcast weather didn’t dampen the passion of more than 100 people who rallied at the Statehouse last Saturday against the polices of Gov. Sam Brownback and the conservative Legislature. “We’re not going to stand for this foolishness,” said Lisa Ochs, president of the American Federation of Teachers-Kansas. House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, was more strident. “I’ve had enough of Sam Brownback and right-wing Republicans that want to impose more and more laws to tear down the working man and woman,” Davis said. But with so few people attending the rally, the protestors have their work cut out for them.

Money for NBAF but not for health care?

Gov. Sam Brownback is reluctant to allow an expansion of Medicaid because he thinks the federal government is broke and may not honor its funding commitment. But he is also pushing the Legislature to authorize an additional $200 million in state bonds to help ensure the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is built in Manhattan, without any worries that the government will honor its funding commitment. Brownback wants NBAF because it is expected to create about 750 construction jobs and more than 300 permanent jobs. But the Medicaid expansion is projected to create about 4,000 jobs. “I think we can say with some certainty,” wrote Kansas City Star columnist Barbara Shelly, “that a pathogen lab is more attractive to him as an economic stimulus than an expansion of health care to low-income Kansans.”

Roberts, House members fighting Common Core standards

The professionals at the Kansas State Department of Education have invested significant time and money in helping develop the Common Core standards, a multistate effort to align standards and progress measures on English and math. And it looks like the standards may escape a legislative attempt to scrap them in Kansas. But Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., was among nine GOP senators who signed a letter last week asking for language in an appropriations bill that would bar the use of funds to develop, implement or evaluate state-level education standards. Also last week, Kansas Reps. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, and Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, and 31 other House members sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan complaining that the “burdensome and misguided” Common Core standards “fail to address the specific needs of our states,” and raised concerns about how the federal government collects and distributes student data. The Common Core standards have been adopted by 45 states, including Kansas, and the District of Columbia, and officials have said it would cost Kansas $30 million to develop other standards and tests at this point.