By Duane Goossen
Each day, the string of national news articles about Kansas finances continues unabated — including recent stories from The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR’s Planet Money, Rolling Stone, Business Insider, and The Daily Show, just to name a few. It’s as though our financial policy has six toes and three ears and everyone wants to have a look.
Financially, Kansas has been taken way out to the very end of the spectrum among states. We Kansans have become the subjects of the now infamous “fiscal experiment.” We have gone where other states don’t go. No wonder those outside Kansas are interested in how we are conducting business.
However, for those of us who live in Kansas, the fiscal experiment is far more worrisome than it is interesting. State revenue fell $688 million in fiscal year 2014 and continues to decline in FY 2015. Economically, we have underperformed our neighboring states. Our lawmakers face a huge budget imbalance that enlarges to $672 million in FY 2015 if revenue just stays flat — but in the first three months of FY 2015, revenue is falling. Education and other key services are in peril.
Kansas badly needs a change of direction. The damage from the fiscal experiment has already been incalculable and has the potential to get far worse.
Turning things around though, will be quite challenging. It will require leaders who know Kansas and have great skill at working within Kansas government — leaders who will take a bipartisan approach and govern with a strong coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. An understanding that Kansas must be fiscally healthy in order to achieve a quality education system will be critical.
Paul Davis and Jill Docking have those attributes. They are joined and supported by Kansans from all parties. Many current and former Republican and Democratic officeholders publicly voice enthusiastic endorsements of Davis and Docking. Educators from across Kansas have rallied in support of Davis and Docking, knowing that the future of Kansas education rests on a change in political course. Kansans committed to running human service programs in a respectful way also back Davis and Docking. Citizens who would not dream of “experimenting” on their own personal finances in such a risky way, have signed on with Davis and Docking to get Kansas back on a responsible track.
The fiscally responsible thing to do now is to vote for change — vote for Davis and Docking. Our state has been taken out to the edge. Davis and Docking, walk us back to a moderate, commonsense, practical Kansas.