Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My Solution to Gun Bans on College Campuses

Legislators are gearing up to make Kansas college students sitting ducks. I speak of course of plans to undo a law that allows students to carry concealed guns on campus.

I'm pretty certain this legislation will be dead on arrival. Though there are plenty of liberal Republicans in western Kansas willing to redistribute wealth, they have the good graces to support gun rights. Couple that fact with a Governor who is pretty solid on Second Amendment issues and this legislation is likely to belly flop.

That said, I've come up with a compromise that will mollify the people terrified of law-abiding citizens having the ability to defend themselves. I call it, The Gidget Southway Signs for Safety Act. Since some believe the height of personal safety is a sign making it illegal to carry a gun in certain places, I recommend printing t-shirts for them that make it clear that shooting a person is illegal. Problem solved. A t-shirt offers the same safety provisions as the No Guns Allowed sign, while still allowing law abiding citizens the right to protect themselves. 

I know I feel safer already.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Test of Wills

This legislative session is clearly going to come down to a test of wills. The group that digs its heels in hardest will walk away with some integrity. All other legislators are going to look like lily-livered, spineless eels. It's going to be so gross.

I write that not as an accusation. Compromise is going to be necessary, but we find ourselves in a place where honest compromise and negotiation are going to be nearly impossible.

If you think government spends too much (Ahem. This girl.), where do you compromise? There's simply no path. The Brownback plan increases government spending. Taxes on cigarettes! Taxes on alcohol! Taxes and more taxes, only less taxes than whatever hellish solution comes out of the Senate--where they seem to be seriously considering parts of the RiseUp plan, also known as the Great Wealth Transfer™. Under those genius's tutelage, the budget may just take money from the pockets of all the humans who have jobs and give it directly to teachers unions and construction workers, after laundering it through state coffers, of course. It is the Worst Plan in History™. 

So if you're a person who thinks government could shed a few pounds, you're in a boat alone in the middle of stormy waters. 

Over in the House, it appears the Democrat plan is to sit back and eat sandwiches the whole session. Those guys aren't going to vote for anything. They showed their hands when they named Rep. Jim Ward as House minority leader. He basically said he won't vote for a one-off LLC-loophole close; he'll only vote for a comprehensive tax package. I'm pretty sure I know the steps to that dance routine. When someone introduces a "comprehensive tax package," there will be some other reason he can't support it. He's probably got tap shoes lined up for every member of the Democratic Caucus in the House. (This is the long game in hopes that the Dems can retake the Governor's Office in 2018.) 

Back in the Senate, the likely purveyors of the Take all the Money and Throw It at Anyone Who Says a Mean Thing™ plan, are about to approve Senate rule changes designed to crush the spirits of even the strongest willed. I speak of a proposed rule change that would allow Senate leadership to make an undebatable motion to recess until a certain time. They're set to vote on this one today. Basically, this new rule will allow leadership (or Senate members) to extend the legislative session under the same legislative day. On the books, it will make it appear as though the session is fewer days than it may in actuality be. This little quirk also means legislators would only be paid for the one day instead of the actual number of days. In short, this will be used as a negotiation tactic, because there are members of the Senate who may not be able to afford staying in session for the rest of their lives with only a day's pay to show for it. 

With an inability to get an agreement of any sort in the House--no faction has the numbers--and a Senate gearing up to throw dissenters under a fiscal bus, Kansans are virtually assured a spike in spending and a bucket full of new taxes. 

The compromise position will require more taxes. For example, the laughable RiseUp proposal includes an 11 cent per gallon gas tax increase. (I will cut someone.) The "compromise" is a smaller gas tax. It makes me physically ill that we're about to tax off the deep end while Missouri is over there with some conservatives in power. Our current legislature is actually gearing up to stick a dagger in Johnson County. If by some miracle KCMO gets its education act together, JoCo will slowly cease to be the economic engine of the state. It's real trouble friends, with a capital "T" that rhymes with "P". And that stands for politics. The tragic part is the disastrous results of a fiscally sane Missouri and a Kansas Legislature acting like Detroit leadership won't be obvious for several years. This makes bleeding Kansas to a slow death the politically easy thing to do. Head desk.

Here's the unicorn I would like to see: A refusal of conservatives in the House and the Senate to vote for any proposal that increases bottom line government spending. This means for every tax increase added, there should be an equal or greater spending cut somewhere else. The likelihood of that happening is right up there with the probability of me marrying Prince Harry. 

It's going to be a very long session culminating in an epic test of wills. May the most frugal and principled win.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Brownback Gives an Address; Was It a Farewell?

If you weren't able to watch Gov. Brownback's State of the State Address, you can read the whole thing here. You can watch it here. (You'll need to fast forward to about minute 43.) It wasn't Brownback's worst address--oh, 2014 address, you still give me nightmares. 

For the first time--at least in my memory--Brownback  used his speech to talk about fiscal conservatism and the values of small government. However, Brownback can't just give a speech without the promise of additional spending. 

He proposed spending $5 million for a rural medical residency program. He proposed establishing a privately funded Doctor of Osteopathy School in Kansas, and he suggested creating a dental school. These proposals would be an attempt to fill a decades long shortage of doctors and dentists in Kansas.

I think these are decent plans, but I'm not sure they're affordable plans at this time. Also, it makes no sense to locate a dental school geographically at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Plant the school  as a KU Med satellite campus in rural Kansas, where the dental shortage is acute. There's a dental school right across the river from KU Med. The University of Missouri--Kansas City has a great dental school. It just doesn't make sense to locate a new one practically next door.

Honestly, the 2017 speech is kind of a microcosm of the entire challenge of the Brownback years--we've always needed to streamline government service; we've always needed to balance the budget so that it "reconciles spending with available revenue." Compare those words with previous Brownback State of the State Addresses in which he announced plans to grow government and the bureaucracy. And then consider this: Under Brownback some government processes have been streamlined. The so-called government cuts have been cuts on proposed spending increases, not actual dollars cut.

Meanwhile, we cut taxes, for which I am grateful. However, you can't cut taxes without cutting spending. THAT is what created Kansas' budget challenges in recent years. In past years, back when Sebelius just held onto your tax returns to balance the budget, the budget shortfalls were a direct result of just spending without any sense of abandon at all. 

On a side note, as a lover of words and language, I appreciated the effort of the Titanic metaphor. That's not the metaphor I would have chosen--far too many in the media have gone out of their way to liken Kansas to a sinking ship, so using that as a metaphor seemed well, not that smart. I would have used something aviation related and tied it to Wichita's aviation industry--or... something else. 

Finally, the speech reads something like a farewell address, and it's especially telling that many of the initiatives and goals set forth are absolutely in Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer's wheelhouse. (Goodbye, Kansas? Hello, Rome?)