First things first.
The headline on last week’s Saturday Column stated “Regents, KU Hospital need injection of vision, leadership.”
The Kansas Board of Regents part of the headline is accurate. However, the KU Hospital part should have read “KU medical school.”
This writer was using the KU Hospital as an example where leadership, vision, enthusiasm and excellent morale all make a huge difference between operations that are successful and those that never seem to get off the ground or take advantage of their opportunities.
Concerning the Board of Regents, it is hoped Gov. Sam Brownback soon will be announcing his nominees for three positions on the nine-member board. It is believed Brownback will use these appointments to send a message. He wants, and expects, the board to be far more aware of what is going on at the various campuses it oversees and to take positive action when necessary rather than to acknowledge there are troubles, problems and challenges but not have the backbone, courage or gumption to take action. This has happened far too often in recent years.
Speaking of Brownback, he and most every other governor in this country are facing severe fiscal challenges. In many states, new governors, such as Brownback, have inherited extremely serious problems. This, combined with the national debt situation and the federal government’s cutback on funding for a multitude of programs, have presented a “perfect storm” situation for Brownback and most of his fellow governors.
Whether Kansans like or dislike Brownback as an individual, they should realize he faces very tough alternatives. He and all other Kansas governors must keep revenue and spending in the proper balance so the state has a balanced budget at the end of each fiscal year.
The federal government and the Obama administration can print more money to meet needs, and members of Congress can approve lifting the lid on borrowing. This cannot be done at the state level. The governor and legislators must end the year with a balanced budget.
If citizens want more services, some way — taxes — must be found to pay for the services. Or they must find a way to cut some services to provide the cash for the new services.
In these times of unemployment, a bad housing market, rising costs and a struggling economy, most families are having to cut expenses in order to make ends meet. They do not want higher taxes.
Brownback has caught static for cutting funding for the Kansas Arts Commission, the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, the Department of Labor, education and probably many other areas. All of these programs, agencies and activities are terribly important for many individuals, but the alternative is to raise taxes or make sizable cuts in other state-aided or state-funded programs.
Some of Obama’s federal funding programs have come to an end and, if they are to be continued, money must be found at the state or local level.
Chances are, the governor will be calling for further reductions or cutbacks unless the state and national economy improve. At the present time, Brownback is looked to as being uncaring and unsympathetic to the needs of Kansas. Too many people refuse to acknowledge he has to play the cards he has been dealt. He can’t have the state treasurer print more money.
In a way, Lawrence officials are facing a similar situation. More residents want more or improved services, but the only way to provide these services is to raise taxes or eliminate other programs.
It’s so easy to spend but far more difficult and painful to call for cuts.
States have to live within their means, while the federal government can print more money and do not have to operate with a balanced budget.
All elected officials, particularly those who will be up for election in 2012, face a moment of truth: Do they call for higher taxes and go on spending, or do they have the courage to curtail spending and make painful cuts in programs that have become bloated in order to try to buy friends and votes?