Archive for Monday, June 13, 1994


June 13, 1994


A new book takes a look at how Kansas public policy can be crafted in an increasingly divided state.

It's a theme you might hear state politicians using in the next few months -- the two states of Kansas.

Kansas is becoming increasingly split into two states: one that is urban, younger and wealthier and one that is rural, older and poorer.

That dichotomy is detailed in a new book published by University Press of Kansas, "Public Policy and the Two States of Kansas."

The book, edited by H. George Frederickson, the Edwin O. Stene Distinguished professor of public administration at KU, is a scholarly analysis of five key policy issues -- education, prisons, transportation, welfare and health.

The authors, which include eight KU faculty members, offer policy suggestions by looking at these issues in terms of the "two-states" theme.

"The two states of Kansas can be a useful metaphor," Frederickson said Friday.

It's simpler to understand the difficulties of creating workable policy when looking at their effects on those in urban and rural areas, how they affect the rich and the poor, the old and the young and the educated and uneducated, he said.

In the book, Frederickson says that from 1974 to 1991, when the national inflation rate grew by just over 100 percent, state government spending jumped by 411 percent.

Meanwhile, the state's federal revenue share fell from 23.9 percent to 19.1 percent, he said.

As a result, average Kansas taxpayers have seen their yearly state and local tax bills rise from an average of $530 in 1974 to $1,676 in 1991, he said.

The book's contributors looked at how the money is spent, what state government is doing with it and why. They point out that because of demographic differences, managing approved policies has become virtually impossible in some areas, such as welfare.

Frederickson said the book is "two-thirds diagnostic and one-third prescriptive."

"If you get the diagnosis right, then the therapy is clear. The policy courses of action are clearer to see," he said.

He said it can be tempting for political candidates to use the two states of Kansas theme in terms of playing on people's fears.

But he said he had a sense that the major candidates in this year's race for governor are more interested in softening the differences between the two states.

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