Archive for Thursday, July 22, 2010

Statehouse Live: Business lobby, higher ed group on opposite sides of political fence

July 22, 2010, 1:35 p.m. Updated July 22, 2010, 1:58 p.m.


— A higher education advocacy group and the state’s largest business lobbying group are on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to sizing up political candidates.

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Higher Education Report Card-Senate ( .PDF )

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Higher Education Report Card-House ( .PDF )

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Kansas Chamber PAC endorsements ( .PDF )

Citizens for Higher Education issued a report card that gave legislators grades based on a series of 27 votes they took.

Among votes given the highest weighting was the one for a 1-cent state sales tax increase, which was approved and went into effect July 1, and the budget supported by that tax increase.

During the last legislative session, 23 senators and 69 representatives made the group’s “Honor Roll” by scoring an A or B. Seventeen senators and 52 representatives received a D or F.

The bi-partisan group of legislators that supported the tax increase said it was a way to avoid further destructive cuts after the budget had already been cut six times during a historic drop in state revenue.

Bill Hall, chairman of Citizens for Higher Education, said there is an undisputed link between a quality higher education system and the economic well being of the state.

“We are pleased by the strong level of consistent support we have received from so many thoughtful legislators,” Hall said.

“Our state’s community colleges and universities, and the graduates they produce, are the engines that drive our economy, both statewide and locally,” he said.

Among area legislators, the higher education group gave A’s to state Sens. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, and state Reps. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, Tony Brown, D-Baldwin City, Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, Ann Mah, D-Topeka, and Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence.

The group gave a D to state Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, and F’s to state Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, and Connie O’Brien, R-Tonganoxie.

The Kansas Chamber, however, had a different view of the sales tax increase.

Its political action committee’s list of endorsements includes legislators who voted against the tax increase and a number of candidates who are challenging in the Aug. 3 primary Republicans who voted for the tax increase. All of the chamber’s PAC endorsements in the legislative contests are Republicans.

“Kansas needs decision-makers in Topeka who understand that the government is funded by businesses and their employees,” said Kansas Chamber interim president and chief executive officer Kent Beisner.

“Instead of cutting spending during these tough times, the Legislature chose to grow the state budget by more than $200 million during the 2010 legislative session.”

Among area legislators, the chamber endorsed state Reps. Brown of Eudora, Tafanelli and O’Brien.


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