Letters to the Editor

Financial reality

February 2, 2011


To the editor:

Over the past two years, many businesses and their employees have made difficult decisions and accepted tough concessions in order to keep their jobs and companies afloat. On the other hand, public entities have relied on bailout monies from the federal government to forestall the really tough decisions. That largesse is now gone and the real financial situations are coming to the forefront. Kansas is $550 million in the hole, and no state bailout is coming from Washington.

In the last two state administrations, government significantly expanded its size and scope but did not increase its ability to pay for that increase in the same manner. Some say, “We shouldn’t try to balance our budget on the backs of the public employees.” Should we just eliminate their jobs? Close down departments? Are public employees exempt from the budget-cutting measures that private industry has had to make? Do they get to remain “sacred” on the backs of the taxpayer?

Too often, public entities have chosen the easy path by raising taxes, fees and rates, rather than face fiscal reality and responsibility. Enough! To the state, county, city and school board: What part of “you are broke” don’t you understand?


beaujackson 7 years ago

The word, "broke" is not in the language of either 497 administration or the BOA.

Just add a few mills to the owners of property and they're off to the races.

Wait and see.

Only property OWNERS should be able to vote on issues involving taxes on property.

JustNoticed 7 years ago

"Only property OWNERS should be able to vote on issues involving taxes on property." Welcome to the 18th Century.

voevoda 7 years ago

Actually, beaujackson, renters pay property taxes, too. It's included in the rent they pay.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

The USD 497 spending on the sports project was simply reckless. That money should have repaired our elementary schools instead. AND taxpayers should have been consulted at the voting booth.

Keeping city,county and state employees on the job is important to economic growth. Without these important tax dollars in the economy lots of other jobs could be lost.

How does getting rid of city,county and state employees save us any money? 1. They lose their medical coverage which in turn increases the cost to all others who happen to have medical insurance. Why is that?

*sales commissions

*Shareholders CERTAINLY increases the cost of insurance. Why are health insurance dollars going to shareholders?

*Health care tax dollars becoming special interest campaign dollars. Why are health insurance dollars being spent on political campaigns?

BruceWayne 7 years ago

Lawrence architect Sven Alstrom beats deadline, files for city commission worth repeating...

petronius (Sven Alstrom) says… originally sent by email to LJW 3:20pm 1/28 after about 6 hours on the forum.

Dear Whitney,

the reason that i re-entered was to be able to FLAG inaccurate or defamatory posts. the first posts on this article you can see provided information.

the forum & the way that Jonathan and you moderate it - however does not make it possible to have a rational discussion.

i have decided to leave the forum.


i am signing out.


Flap Doodle 7 years ago

"i have decided to leave the forum. goodbye. i am signing out. SVEN January 29, 2011"

Liberty275 7 years ago

"They lose their medical coverage"

That we pay for.

"* corp jets"

Corporations should be able to own property. Period.

"1.4 million a day by the Chamber of Commerce and the medical insurance industry."

Private companies paying private companies.

"extreme profits to support reckless spending"

Companies should be able to do with their money as they please.

"high corporate salaries to over 2000 medical insurance providers"

Said the man that supports the US goverment forcing us to buy medical insurance. LOL, irony.

"Blah blah blah"

Leftist thieves believe it is their job to tell other people what to do with their money.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Keeping city,county and state employees on the job is important to economic growth. Without these important tax dollars in the economy lots of other jobs could be lost.

How does getting rid of city,county and state employees save us any money? Likely it does not.

After they have lost medical insurance they turn to emergency rooms for care = very expensive which may well increase the cost for hospital services.

Smaller paycheck from UNemployment insurance means less money in the economy means: 1. Increase in user fees(tax increase) to cover the cost of keeping government running 2. These former employees may need food stamps = increase in the cost of Social Svcs 3. These former employees may need help paying utilities = where does anyone think that money comes from.... you and me! 4. These former employees may find themselves in foreclosure 5. These former employees may find themselves in an auto repo situation 6. These former employees may not be able to pay their public school fees 7. These former employees suddenly are not able to clear their credit card debt each month after so many years of being fiscally responsible.

I prefer paying city,county and state employees to blowing money on voter ID nonsense and giving our tax dollars to corporate giants who might well put other long time local business people out of business.

It seems to me getting rid of necessary city,county and state employees is NOT going to save any money but increase our cost of living in so many other areas. Where is the net gain?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

While you may think it's too large a part of the economy, it's still part of it. The money that goes into it comes right back out, and in that respect it functions precisely the way any actor in the private sector does.

And while cutting it would satisfy you ideologically, it provides services that voters have at some point decided they want. Cutting government spending will have to mean cutting those services, and that will have a negative effect on nearly everyone in the state-- even you. And there's no indication that the private sector is going pick up where the state is required to leave off.

What's more, any cuts in state spending will have an initial hit to the state's economy as state employees (and state agencies) have to cut back on their spending as a result of salary cuts or loss of employment. This will have a ripple effect throughout the economy, and there's no reason to believe that the tax breaks this would provide to the Koch brothers will in any way make up for that. They, and others like them, can just as easily spend that money in China. And they probably will.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

The salaries and benefits that the majority of state workers get are no greater than what they could get in the private sector, and for many, they are lower, even with the latest reductions in that sector.

So if legislators really think that taxpayers can't afford the services they are now getting from the state, then services should be cut or eliminated, even if it means firing or furloughing state workers. And if voters then discover that they want those services to be restored, they can elect legislators who agree with them.

And if the legislature decides that only those who make over $100,000 (or whatever number the pick) per year should have their salaries and benefits cut, then a more rational and fair way to approach that would be to increase taxes on everyone in the state at that level, not just state employees.

usnsnp 7 years ago

Why do we not start with Politicians, How many of our Federal and State Politicians are making it a life time job. With great pay, benefits and retirement, and when they finaly retire good job prospects working for some lobbying firm or law firm. They should be term limited, and if they want to run for another office while in office they should resign their position. How many of you can take time off from work to hunt for another job. The Politicians are the bigest feeders at the Public Trough, but they have convinced a number of people that it is not them but everyone else.

jafs 7 years ago

The problem with this thinking is that it starts today.

Why hasn't the state been concerned with budget problems for many years now, given chronic underfunding of pensions, the educational system, etc.?

When we use federal stimulus money to prop up funding for education, don't we know something's wrong, and unsustainable?

And, according to some numbers from another poster, corporate tax rates have been declining for a long time now. Perhaps that's part of the problem.

labmonkey 7 years ago

We need a governor like Chris Christie.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

What makes you think we don't? (or are you referring to his girth?)

labmonkey 7 years ago

We have one who would like to be Christie, but he lacks the "I don't care what you think" factor.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Why, yes, that's just the quality we need in public officials. (sarcasm)

Paul R Getto 7 years ago

We the people need to have the large discussion with three points: 1. What do we really want government to do? 2. What will our 'wish list' cost? and 3. How will we tax ourselves to pay for it? If #3 comes down to, "I don't want to pay for that," go back to #1 and remove something from the 'to do' list. Anyone can say they want smaller government, but they usually mean smaller for someone other than themselves. Hence the problem. 90% of KS govt. is education and social services; 80%+ of the Federal budget is defense and entitlements. How this sorts out, and whether we can have this conversation will be critical in the coming years. Kansas 'went broke' in about 2000 by design due to large tax cuts for several years and no decrease in the benefits for people. The solution in 2001 or so was a $300,000,000+ tax increase, which will not fly this time. On the other hand, if we don't get a grip, the silliness will continue. Can we grow up? Time will tell and it's up to both parties to deal their cards face up and be honest with the people

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

And I would add a #4-- Do we want to pay state employees a fair wage for providing the services we expect?

tir 7 years ago

Newsflash--state agencies HAVE already eliminated a lot of positions. Maybe they haven't fired people wholesale to respond to the numerous budget cuts that have occurred over the past several years, but when workers quit or retired, many of these positions were left unfilled or permanently eliminated. The people who were left had to take on extra duties so that the agencies' work could continue and state services provided uninterrupted. Meanwhile, there have been no pay increases for state workers since the recession started, and their health insurance costs (especially deductibles), resulting in a net pay cut. So there are in fact fewer state workers doing more work for less pay. I just wanted to point that out, since the public perception seems to be that no state jobs have been cut and that state workers have not been affected by the recession.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Thanks for that report. But as I'm sure you already know, the campaign against government, and government employees, is based on ideology, not facts.

Paul R Getto 7 years ago

tir: Good point. As I recall, the official policy has been to cut the state work force where possible for quite some time. Technology has made this easier in some cases, but we still need, for example, the same number of snow plow drivers, to cite an example fresh in people's minds.

booyalab 7 years ago

Didn't the onion used to be funny and accurate?

voevoda 7 years ago

Kansas as a state isn't "broke." But its public services have been chronicly underfunded. Rather than balance the budget on the backs of modestly-compensated state employees (many of whom can't afford even a small reduction in pay), why not do the following: 1) Eliminate all the initiatives that are mere political posturing, e.g. the lawsuits against the Federal government, the new voter ID, restrictions on women's health care providers, school vouchers, etc. 2) Raise taxes on Kansans who make more than a quarter of a million dollars a year. Couple this with a 100% exemption to businesses for jobs they create in Kansas. 3) Require all employers in the state to hire 100% American citizens (and legal residents) who work 100% on the books--and so are paying taxes. Once all that has been done, if there is still a deficit, then the state government can ask employees--those who make over $50,000 per year, that is--to take a cut. Not before.

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