No plan survives long past first contact with the opposition. But, the better the plan, the longer it might stay on track. We’ve spent the last four years tearing up our tracks; the state of our state’s budget is proof enough of that. Plenty of candidates say they’re the agents of change. But what exactly are they going to do? If they don’t have a good answer, tell them to find one of my palm cards. Or just send them to this post.
Step 1: End the 2012 Tax Holiday!
If we start with this, we’ll immediately re-enlist around 300,000 taxpayers that have gone on extended leave. I’ve heard many Brownback allies say “Well, that will only get you around $200 million, so it’s not that simple.” I beg to differ. That money is annual revenue, not one-time fake accounting patches like our current leaders favor. It will take more than that to fix Brownback’s damage, but it’s certainly a good start.
Step 2: Restore Sanity to the State Budget!
After our revenue plan starts to look a little more balanced, we can make it stable for the long term. This means being honest about how we pay for our state employees’ retirements, maintaining our roads and bridges, and our public schools. No more “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” We must also take politics out of dollars-and-cents decisions like expanding Medicaid. It creates jobs for caregivers, makes sick people more likely to rejoin the workforce, and frees family members from the burden of caring for the sick and disabled.
Step 3: Invest in Our Future!
Then once our current problems under control, we’ve got to focus on the future. Funding our public schools in a fair and predictable way is crucial to keeping Kansas competitive. Every child in the state needs a shot at meeting or exceeding the five outcomes required by the Kansas State Board of Education. And then we have to make sure that those qualified, hardworking graduates have good roads, clean water, and reliable power to create competitive products for the global market.
Step 4: Economic Growth through Kansas Ingenuity!
Once the tracks are repaired, we need to start the engines of growth. We’ll find those easily enough if we just pay attention to the small-business owners and front-line workers of our state. They see where the problems are, and they see where the solutions might be. But just because somebody has a legislator’s phone number doesn’t mean that a new law is the best answer. Special interests, consultants and think tanks have their own agendas and ideologies that need to be examined carefully. Especially if we’re paying for the advice through state contracts or privatization.
In less than a page, I’ve described how I intend to get Kansas back on track. Challenge the other candidates to sum things up for you, too. Then compare. See which one makes more sense and rings true to your experience. Then vote on November 8.