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Morning Sun
  • GUEST COLUMN: Budget battles in Kansas — Saying 'Thanks' and 'Thanks a lot'

  • The current session of the Kansas Legislature has been rife with hearings and debate over the state budget and further tax decreases. This follows on the heels of the dramatic cuts during the session last year. All this has resulted in a huge hole in the budget, meaning that the vital functions of the state are in jeopardy and, likely will be drastically cut.

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  • The current session of the Kansas Legislature has been rife with hearings and debate over the state budget and further tax decreases. This follows on the heels of the dramatic cuts during the session last year. All this has resulted in a huge hole in the budget, meaning that the vital functions of the state are in jeopardy and, likely will be drastically cut.
    The tax cut and resulting budget hole mean, among other things, higher education, including Pittsburg State University, will suffer somewhere between a 2% to 8 % cut in their budget to be made up on the backs of students and their families with higher tuition and fees. This ignores the fact that our colleges and universities are among the best investments in the future and among the best drivers of economic development.
    Among the solutions to filling the shortfall in revenue brought on by the tax cuts is to grab an additional $300 million from the Kansas Department of Transportation, with a 10-year total of over $1.5 billion grabbed from KDOT, plus the before-mentioned budget cut to higher education and other state services.
    Tax cuts are generally good. But, in this case it is too much, too quickly. There is a better way to achieve the apparent ultimate goal—make the proposed income tax cuts, but make it revenue neutral by keeping the .6 cent state sales tax set to expire. If this were done, it would relieve the burden being placed on our colleges and universities. That would be good.
    Now, to the main point. There are a couple of different ways to give “Thanks”. One is to do so cynically and a second is to do so sincerely.
    To the former, thanks a lot for putting the budget and the state in such a difficult position by having to reduce services and budgets. There is a better way — retain the .6 cent sales tax for two to three years while the economy settles down.
    And to the latter, a sincere thanks to those legislators who stood firm in favor of T-WORKS and its funding. As a result the transportation improvements in SE Kansas — Highway 69 and US 400 will continue. One of the leaders in making that happen was Pittsburg’s Rep. Julie Menghini. To her we say “Thanks”. You stood tall at a time it might have been difficult to do so. Courage in politics is often just doing the right thing. This was the right thing to do.
    Now let’s fix the impending blows to Pittsburg State University so we can move on.
    — Jim AuBuchon is the executive director of the U.S. Highway 69 Association.
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