A public education is guaranteed to all children of Kansas. We must assure the children of our state have a meaningful opportunity for an education that prepares them for the workforce or higher education. The earning capacity of individuals is often tied to their level of education or specialized skill set. An educated and trained workforce coupled with the strong work ethic of Kansans will position Kansas well for the future. Western Kansas communities depend upon their local schools for both an educational opportunity for their children as well as serving as the centerpiece of the community. Rural Kansas communities cannot recruit and retain business if schools fail. An investment in education is an investment in the long term future of our community and state.

Sensible Tax Reform
Nobody likes paying taxes and everybody expects that our roads and highways will be in good condition, our schools will educate children and prepare them for a successful self-sufficient adulthood, our streets will be safe from the most dangerous and violent offenders and our seniors will be able to enjoy their golden years in relative comfort. There are three fundamental issues that impact the amount of taxes we pay. First is how much are we planning on spending. We must insist that state budgets are developed in a manner that articulates our priorities for funding and there is effective and efficient management of state agencies. Second is the mix of taxes. Our taxes are based upon three basic sources of revenue, income tax, sales tax and property tax. A carefully balanced tax system assures that there is not an over reliance on any single segment of our tax structure that results in an unfair burden upon any group. Third is the earning capacity of individuals and businesses. Normally, the more people earn, the more they buy and they pay more taxes. Sensible tax reform takes into consideration that it takes some time for changes in tax structure to result in a healthier overall economy. There is a natural delay in reinvestment when tax savings are achieved. It is important we understand that patience and a well-planned long term strategy will serve us best. Turning on a dime will cost us dollars in the long run. Recovery from the damage done through irresponsible tax reform will take years.

People Before Politics/Good Government
The last session of the legislature was among the worst examples of how we expect our government to act. Political interests trumped the interests of the citizens of our state. Members of the legislature are there to serve the people. They must accomplish the work they are sent to do. It appears they failed on two of three mandated duties. The courts, not the legislature, completed the reapportionment of districts. The court is again considering the funding level appropriated by the legislature to fund public education. Once again, the court will likely say that education funding is not at a level that meets constitutional requirements. The legislature did meet their mandate of adopting a state budget, however, political maneuvering resulted in a reckless tax reduction package that is forecast to make adoption of budgets in future years very difficult if not impossible without significant cuts or increased taxes. Political gamesmanship ruled the day. It was not about whether or not good policy was considered and adopted. It was about who won at the end of the day. The citizens took a distant second place when the people should always be first. This selfish approach to governing must stop.

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© 2012 Paid for by Jennings for Southwest Kansas, Judy Jennings, treasurer