Tuesday’s article of 3-14-17, “Four-lane project breaks ground,” was welcome news about extending the four-lane portion of 69 further south. But the article’s recognition of Sen. Jake LaTurner’s role in this extension doesn’t tell the whole story. Gov. Brownback’s failed state income tax policy, with LaTurner’s loyal support every year since his election in 2013, precipitated the present budget crisis. What did Brownback do to deal with it? He slashed Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) funds, along with those of many other agencies, to plug the budget hole, as the article points out: “All three projects (the three phases of the 69 extension) were delayed indefinitely in April 2016 when Brownback announced budget cuts.” Note that date, because, as the article goes on to point out, just two months later in June, Brownback announced that he was restoring funding for the first phase. Why? It was election season and Brownback wanted to reward LaTurner’s loyalty and help his re-election chances. And it worked, because LaTurner emphasized throughout his campaign last fall that he had gotten Brownback to restore funding for the partial extension. But the reality is that all three phases of the 69 extension would be being completed had Brownback not destroyed the state’s stable tax and revenue system and robbed KDOT of funds to make up for the lost money. And LaTurner has loyally supported Brownback’s failed policies every year. So, if LaTurner wants to take credit for one of the extensions, he must also take responsibility for the loss of the other two.
What can we do? First and foremost, support the bipartisan efforts of Representatives Monica Murnan and Adam Lusker to pass a budget bill that will begin to restore fiscal stability, as well as funding for KDOT. Both Representatives repeatedly emphasized restoring fiscal stability as the key to addressing all state issues at the Legislative Forum this past Saturday morning at the Pittsburg Public Library. By contrast, Jake LaTurner was a no-show, even though he had confirmed his participation with the organizers. When he comes out of hiding, ask him why he continues to support Brownback’s destructive fiscal policies that are hurting so many people in our state.
I’m grateful for the 69 extension, but we must not forget why the entire project is not being completed.
Cheryl Ferrier M.
Doing what's right
Two of our local politicians did what was right (Saturday) morning and attended a public session held at the Pittsburg Library. They gave concise reports of statewide political events being studied by the legislature in Topeka. They also listened to concerns of local residents. In fact. They drew out comments from the audience to learn southeast Kansas views about issues and matters impacting us all.
Their attendance is appreciated by this tax payer, who also noted what state senator was not there — something that has become a common action for him. Social services, concealed carry of firearms on campus, discussion of the ongoing commemoration honoring Vietnam veterans were all on the plate at the meeting. Attendees learned much.
This was an important community opportunity that happened, thanks to both the political figures sitting at the table, and to the Pittsburg Library. Aside from the notable absence of the state senator, the only other criticism I have about the meeting is that there should have been representation from the Federal side of things.
All politics is local, a wise old bird once said, but what happens here is not separate and apart from national activity. Some of the comments made by the state representatives connect directly to current affairs all across the land. We need to talk to each other as often as possible, and we need to listen to each other with equal intensity. This morning, the Feds missed the boat.
Not a listening tour
Last Monday, I attended the “listening” tour hosted by Lynn Jenkins in Lawrence. There were approximately 300-400 people who sacrificed their time to attend this town hall style meeting. They expressed their deep and sincere concerns regarding the Republican plan to repeal the ACA. Jenkins should have called it a “hearing tour” instead of a listening tour because she was definitely NOT listening those pleading to keep their ACA coverage. Instead, she repeated the stock answers I’ve heard from Republican leaders. I have worked in health care for over 20 years and I have observed the devastation brought by an unplanned illness or accident. I have witnessed uninsured patients diagnosed with terminal cancer because they waited too long to get a lump checked out for fear they couldn’t pay the bill. She was unsympathetic and tone deaf to the hundreds of people afraid of losing their coverage.
Jenkins stated the republican plan would lower costs because patients could “shop” around to find the least expensive care. Jenkins has spent too much time in Washington since the vast majority of rural Kansans have only one option for healthcare in their community, their local hospital. Are these rural Kansans supposed to drive hours to find the cheapest options for health care? Does Lynn know rural communities rely on critical access hospitals to provide their health care? Does she know many critical access hospitals have suffered greatly by not expanding Medicaid in Kansas? The only hospital in Independence closed due to lack of Medicaid expansion. If the ACA is repealed, we will see many more rural hospitals go under. I suggest Jenkins take an extended tour thru rural Kansas. Then next time she holds a “listening” tour, maybe she will listen instead of just repeating Washington talking points.