The Kansas state Senate GOP leadership announced that it was killing a religious liberty measure, harpooned for opening the door to anti-gay discrimination.
While this is welcome news, Kansans should keep up the momentum by taking a moment to locate their state senator and contact them (call, snail mail, e-mail, tweet) to inform them to oppose this bill.
It’s pretty simple. Poverty is on the rise in Kansas because Governor Brownback is pushing more Kansans into poverty and doing nothing to help those already there.
The far right Kansas Senate okayed a bill today that will require people receiving unemployment insurance or state assistance to take drug tests to receive benefits.
Ignoring the fact that this is an offensive bill that makes nasty, unfounded assumptions about people who receive state aid, it’s a complete waste of money. Florida tried implementing this policy and wasted millions of dollars for no benefit.
Tell your state representatives to get back to work protecting public schools and bringing jobs to Kansas, not testing Kansans pee and wasting their time and our money.
In recent months, Gov. Sam Brownback has blamed his predecessor for a $2 billion spending hike that never happened and taken credit for spending cuts he didn’t actually make.
Brownback has also touted — and lamented — a statistic that only 54 percent of the money spent on education in Kansas actually finds its way into the classroom, a figure at odds with the 61.9 percent that Kansas reports to the federal government.
Those inaccuracies and some other technically accurate – but potentially misleading – numbers are contained in a PowerPoint presentation that Brownback has delivered for months to opinion leaders throughout the state, including a recent presentation at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Brownback’s numbers matter because they’re being used by his administration and the Legislature to guide and justify state spending policy decisions, especially in education. The governor has used his presentation to drum up public support for plans to cut income taxes and to resist a recent court decision that found the state isn’t meeting its constitutional mandate to provide adequate funding for schools.
Pat Garofalo | Think Progress
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R), like Republican governors all across the country, aims to implement a regressive tax plan that involves cutting income taxes for the rich while, in his case, maintaining a sales tax hike that primarily hurts the poor. The sales tax increase was supposed to be temporary when it was adopted in 2010, but Brownback now wants to make permanent.
Sales taxes disproportionately impact the poor, who are more likely to spend all or most of their income. According to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Brownback’s plan will raise taxes on the poorest Kansans, but still lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue due to huge tax cuts for the rich:
– The poorest 20 percent of Kansas taxpayers would pay 0.2 percent more of their income in taxes each year, or an average increase of $22.
– The middle 20 percent of Kansas taxpayers would pay 0.2 percent less of their income in taxes each year, or an average cut of $104.
– Upper-income families, by contrast, reap the greatest benefit with the richest one percent of Kansans, those with an average income of over a million dollars, saving an average of $6,528 a year.
The plan would cost the state $340 million in revenue, despite hiking taxes the poor. And Kansas already has a regressive tax system, with the poorest residents paying arate more than twice as high as the richest 1 percent.
Governor Brownback is doing his damnedest to make Kansas more like Texas: more regressive, worse schools, more poverty, and less worker protections. You can find some disturbing facts about the state of Texas below:
- 27% of Texas children live in poverty, ranking Texas 42nd nationally.
- 18.5% of all Texans live below the poverty line, good for 40th nationally.
- 24% of Texas’s population is uninsured, the highest rate in the nation.
- Texas also leads the nation in uninsured children with 17% of Texas children having no insurance. In Kansas, only 8% of children are uninsured.
- 9.5% of TX workers make minimum wage and receive no medical benefits, making Texas the state with the most workers at earning minimum wage.
- 28% of Texas 4th graders read at or above a proficient level 39th nationally. In contrast, 36% of Kansas 4th graders read proficiently or better, good for 12th best nationally.
- Texas has the 7th most regressive tax system, taking over 12% of the bottom 20% income while only receiving 3% of the wealthiest 1% income.
President Barack Obama entered the Oval Office under dire conditions — a hemorrhaging economy and a dispirited GOP intent on limiting him to one term, at any cost.
Despite those odds, he has kept his cool and his head.
His policies helped the middle class and kept a deep recession from becoming worse. He repaired America’s reputation in the world. And he got important legislation passed.
For that, the nation is better — not fully healed, but pushing forward. He has earned another four years.
Among his top accomplishments, Obama:
• Ended the war in Iraq.
• Is on track to responsibly bring troops home from the war in Afghanistan, following the killing of America’s top enemy, Osama bin Laden.
• Pushed through tax cuts for the middle class.
• Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to better protect women from discrimination.
• Ended “don’t ask, don’t tell,” allowing gays and lesbians to serve without prejudice in the military.
• Created the Consumer Financial Protection bureau, which has successfully led to new safeguards.
• Sparked efforts to improve education and expand and lighten the cost of student college loans.
• Boosted the fuel economy standards for cars.
• Signed the Affordable Care Act, his signature achievement so far that will give Americans access to insurance, regardless of pre-existing conditions and without limits.
No question, Obama has underperformed in some ways, too.
He needs to pick up the pace of wooing more lawmakers personally to build consensus and get more legislation passed. His good ideas to put Americans to work on improving infrastructure, education and alternative energy need more votes. He’ll need to shift his campaign crowd skills to one-on-one arm twisting with the next Congress.
So why not recommend Republican candidate Mitt Romney?
We have no clue which Romney he would become as a president.
Would the nation get the Massachusetts, pro-health-care-for-all, rather moderate model?
Or the hard-right, tea party panderer of the primaries, who sought dubious immigration policy advice from Kansas’ Kris Kobach, an alienator of national proportions?
Or the new, improved, peace-loving final debate version?
A strong executive who can buy and sell companies and is used to getting his way is not the same as a visionary leader who can pull people together.
Romney’s comment in a private donor setting — belittling the 47 percent who don’t pay income taxes as freeloaders — is damning and hard-to-shake evidence that he may not really care so much about many Americans of lesser portfolios.
And it’s immensely troubling that Romney’s tax plans don’t add up. His wish to lower all tax rates, without specifying how he’d counter the revenue loss with elimination of deductions and loopholes, is not acceptable. Will home mortgage and charitable deductions get the boot? Or will he eventually try to sell his fluctuating “cap” on the total dollar amount of deductions, which in some iterations wouldn’t make a dent in the debt?
As a successful businessman, it’s hard to imagine Romney accepting his own nebulous presentations if someone else were pitching them to him as a financier. So why should Americans buy vague promises?
Romney’s abortion ideas and general views on women (no comment on pay equity) are troubling. There is a real risk his Supreme Court appointments would be anti-abortion, and women’s private health decisions could be dangerously restricted.
His one major foreign policy trip this year included an insult to the Brits over their handling of the Olympics and then cozying up with a major donor in Israel, skipping the Palestinian-Israeli border dispute areas.
In too many ways, Romney resembles a slick salesman, willing to fudge and say anything to close the deal.
It’s no deal for us.
We look ahead to four more years of Obama’s reasoned, compassionate and forward-looking ideas on good jobs, fair taxes and better education to meet the global competition.
My Fellow Kansans,
On Tuesday, the Kansas Republican Party took another hard right turn away from the “middle of the road” politics that have served our state so well for many decades. This path is being forged by Governor Sam Brownback, who has sent a clear message to Kansas Republicans:You must be in 100% agreement with my agenda or I will take you out.
Today the face of the Republican party is more anti-public school, more anti-worker, more anti-woman and more anti-middle class than ever before. This is no longer the party of Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, Bill Graves and Nancy Kassebaum.
What does this mean for Kansas? Well, the parents who are preparing to send their child back to school later this month should be worried. The worker who is desperately trying to find a job to provide for his family should be worried. The woman who believes that her health care decisions should be made by her instead of government should be worried. And the senior citizen on a fixed income who is struggling to keep his home as a result of rising property taxes should be worried.
The good news is the 2012 election is far from over. The welcome mat is front and center at the Democratic Party in Kansas. We stand ready to ensure that our schools are supported and bolstered by this Legislature so that the children of Kansas can receive the education they need to move our economy forward. We stand ready to fight the new Republican Party that wants to attack our schools and leave a generation of Kansas children behind. We stand ready to advocate for middle class taxpayers and over the next three months we will take the fight to Republicans over who really believes in tax fairness. We look forward comparing our plan to cut property taxes with the Brownback tax plan that simply enriches the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
Senator Hensley, myself and Democratic legislative candidates across the state want the people of Kansas to know that if you share our Kansas values and if you want an alternative to the Brownback Agenda, you can - and should - join us. There is still time to send a message to Sam Brownback that neither our votes nor our values are for sale.
Kansas House Democratic Leader