Focus on the important stuff, Legislature

In what has now become an annual column, we’d like to implore all state legislators throughout the state to please, for the love of Kansas and all things holy, focus on the important issues at hand.

Each year, we see a legislative session longer than the next, one that costs taxpayers more money as they have to pay the legislators for being up there far into the month of May. But outside of that small cost, the bigger issue is that procrastination leads to last-minute middle-of-the-night laws, a huge lack of transparency and generally bad laws.

We’ve seen the effects a local property-tax cap law, which prompted a rise in property taxes in anticipation of it going into affect, the opposite of what the bill tried to accomplish.

We’ve seen them in education finance formulas which continue to be ruled unconstitutional by the Kansas Supreme Court.
We’ve seen them in the budgets that underfund core services, such as mental health causing facilities to be shut down, or underfunds prisons causing strikes.

Frustration in unfocused legislative process has spilled over in the past, and voters ousted a good number of legislators for the deteriorating state of Kansas.
In turn, they did manage to get a repeal of the Brownback tax plan done in the session.

We’d like to at least see that focus continue and see the legislature work earlier on a few things.

One—we’d like to see them try to settle the budget before the last minutes of the session.
Two—we’d like to see them come up with a school-funding law that will pass constitutional muster at the end of the session.

And three—we’d like to see them at least look at Medicaid expansion.

These things are important issues that affect all Kansans. The state budget determines what monies our local governments receive, what monies can be spent on roads, what monies will be spent on schools. The budget plays a role in thousands of state jobs, and if it can be crafted in a well-thought-out manner, the state benefits.

The school funding formula must be figured out because one day the Supreme Court will shut schools down if the legislature and the governor don’t get their acts together. There’s some debate about if the court could shut down schools, but if they did, it would be a disaster.

Medicaid expansion is an important step for the legislature to keep pushing. It almost passed last year in Kansas with the legislature a few votes short of overriding a governor veto.

The legislature needs to keep it up this year.

The Medicaid expansion would help provide health insurance to a population too poor for the Affordable Care Act but making too much money for the current Medicaid system.

Most of those dollars would come from federal funds, federal funds we as a state pay into.

And on the subject of health, the state needs to allocate more dollars for Kancare reimbursements to retirement homes and force its private Kancare provider to process Medicare eligibility claims faster.

Kancare has hurt some of our most vulnerable citizens, as well as our local retirement communities.

We’ve chronicled the issues the state’s mismanagement of the Kancare program has caused to our local retirement homes, as well as to some of our most vulnerable populations. That’s unacceptable.

All in all, we do seem to have a delegation for Newton to be proud of with Tim Hodge and Carolyn McGinn strong voices who want to get down to business. We can’t say that for many other state legislators.
Still, we’d like to encourage our delegation and the rest of the state to get down to business.

Leave out the crap like naming a state poinsettia, banning some children’s book or making it illegal to do business with the state if you boycott whatever country is popular with a political base.

When your house is on fire, you don’t debate what color of begonias to plant. You grab a hose.

Kansas has been on fire for years. Grab a hose, legislators.