Let?s face it, Kansas voters blew it. I was one of many who sounded a warning about what could happen if Sam Brownback was re-elected as our governor, and the reality is that the people of this once populist and progressive state seldom cast ballots that reflect their own best interests. We are now seeing those poor decisions bearing fruit. And, it is bitter fruit indeed.
The governor and his conservative cronies have mounted vicious attacks on education, public employees, people with disabilities, the LGBT community and, generally speaking, everyone else who is not among the financially privileged.
Now the residents of the Sunflower State have been left with only one recourse: hold those who have been elected to the legislature and leadership positions accountable for their recent actions. Question them. Cajole them. Make them feel uncomfortable as they try to explain the dismantling of the Kansas we used to know and love.
Here are some sample queries to pose at townhall meetings, through phone calls or via email.
What have public school teachers and public employees done to draw so much ire from the Republican Party? Just as it is easy for other drivers to tell when someone is texting behind the wheel, it is clear to residents that a majority of conservatives have it in for these groups. What has happened that has made public enemy No. 1 out of public sector workers?
Why do you listen to the Kansas Chamber of Com?merce, Dave Trabert and other groups who have no experience in education when making decisions about the school finance formula?
Why do you hide behind the smokescreen that the formula that has been the standard for decades is suddenly too complicated to work? Perhaps you should have listened to the educational experts before throwing the metaphorical baby out with the proverbial bath water.
Is the block grant system just another way to shortchange school districts? Again, not many are being fooled by the assertion that the new method will result in more money for classrooms. How is adding cash to the KPERs retirement fund?it is simply replacing money that was promised earlier, then taken back?going to trickle down to improve student achievement?
Why do you continue to support flawed economic programs? Most Kansans can see that the elimination of taxes for businesses was a bad, bad, bad idea. It hasn?t worked, and it won?t work.
Even longtime state budget director Duane Goossen, one of the most respected financial gurus ever to come out of the Kansas political system, has said so. He worked for both Republican and Democratic administrations. That should say something about his credibility.
Why do you refuse to expand social aid when it is obvious there would be financial as well as real-world benefits for thousands of Kansans? Are you still pouting about the success of the federal Affordable Care Act? Get over it. Do what is right for your state rather than what you believe is right for the far right.
How does allowing anyone and everyone to carry a firearm anywhere and everywhere make us safer? I don?t know how things work in Topeka, but around this part of the state, some adults have been known to make instant, irrational and often irreversible decisions. Do we really want to risk making it easier for them to obtain potentially lethal weapons? Are we to believe edging closer to gun battles in the streets is a positive direction for our state?
Why are you even considering what has been termed ?religious freedom? legislation? If the governor is all about growing the Kansas economy as he claims to be, shouldn?t our state leaders take a lesson from the recent events in Indiana and Arkansas? Do religious rights only apply to the political right? He already rescinded personal protections put in place by a former governor.
Why not simply abolish the death penalty in Kansas? No state-sponsored execution has taken place since 1965. If it?s such a great deterrent to crime, what?s the holdup?
One can?t help but wonder: If the gubernatorial election was held today, would the voters still return our governor to office? I?d like to think Kansans are smarter than that. But, based on recent trends, I still don?t know if the odds would be better than 50-50.