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Archive for Sunday, December 22, 2013

Group of former Republican officials seeks to thwart Brownback policies

December 22, 2013

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— Alarmed by the sharp change of direction in state government under Gov. Sam Brownback, a group of former Republican legislators has vowed to try to change his policies, with some members of the group working against his re-election.

The group of 70 people calls itself Traditional Republicans for Common Sense.

"The governor's poll numbers show that Kansans are not happy with what he is doing," said Rochelle Chronister, a spokeswoman for the group who has served as a legislator, state welfare agency secretary and chair of the Kansas Republican Party. "I think he has to be held accountable," Chronister said.

The group includes a number of well-known names in Kansas politics, such as former Senate President Steve Morris of Hugoton and former state senator Jean Schodorf, who has switched to the Democratic Party and is running against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. In fact, there are a number of Republican state senators in the group who were defeated in last year's GOP primary by allies of Brownback.

Other group members include former state and U.S. Senator Sheila Frahm and former senators Dick Bond, Fred Kerr and Wint Winter Jr. and former House speakers R.H. Miller, Wendell Lady and Jim Braden.

The current state GOP leadership has little use for the group.

"They are a sour grapes caucus," said Clay Barker, executive director of the state Republican Party.

Always the top party in Kansas, the GOP is increasing its dominance over Democrats in voter registration and success in federal, statewide, legislative and county elections, Barker said.

Barker said many Democrats in Kansas are switching to the Republican Party because of what described as the failings of President Barack Obama.

But Chronister keeps her focus on Brownback and the conservative state Legislature.

She said the Traditional Republicans group opposes the tax cuts pushed through by Brownback, including those that exempt certain businesses from income taxes while repealing tax credits aimed at helping low-income Kansans.

"We are very concerned about the trickle-down economics theory of the governor," she said.

Brownback has said his tax changes will stimulate the economy, but critics say the changes benefit wealthy Kansans while bankrupting schools and social services.

Chronister said the tax cuts will also make it impossible to provide the necessary funds to schools, especially if the Kansas Supreme Court orders an increase in a pending case.

And the group opposes efforts by Brownback to hand-pick appellate court judges without input from a nominating commission.

"Why would you trade a merit system for a political system? But of course if you are making a power grab that is something that you would do," she said.

And one policy that has personally irked Chronister is the recent proposal by Brownback to take $12 million from a program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and use that for a program to boost grade-school reading scores.

"When you have that much money leftover in TANF to finance a reading program, you are not doing your job. That money should be used to help people earn a living," said Chronister, who used to be in charge of the agency that administers TANF.

The Brownback administration says that improving reading scores will help reduce poverty.

Chronister said the group probably won't endorse a candidate for governor in 2014 but that individual members will and some of those will support the Democratic candidate, who will likely be House Minority Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence.

Comments

John McCoy 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Same thing here in Texas. The legislature is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the corporate world.

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Betty Bartholomew 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"The Brownback administration says that improving reading scores will help reduce poverty."

I had great reading scores and have still been impoverished for most of my adult life. Is there some get-paid-lots-of-money-for-reading job that I'm missing out on? Because if I could get paid bunches of money just to read books, I'd be on it!

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Fast Eddie 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Gov Brownback should be renamed Gov Mossback, like those old gators in the swamp that persist in doing damage to their environment.

Until someone makes them into a brand-new pair of shoes.

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3 months, 2 weeks ago

Is there some reason why Kansas can't feed its hungry children and teach them to read? I've never heard that the two are mutually exclusive. Plus, a well-fed child will learn to read a lot better than a hungry one.

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William Enick 3 months, 3 weeks ago

If this is happening in Kansas, it will happen in 75% of the red states in 3 years....

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Grégoire Guillaume 3 months, 3 weeks ago

The Kansas GOP are no longer Republicans, they are corporatists bought and sold.Trickle- down economics has been exposed for the sham that it is. When are we going to put the United back in the United States and stop this give away to corporations by states competing against each other for their business?
The corporations get tax concessions (welfare) and the tax money that they should be paying to help the "commons" remains in the pockets of the 'elite'. My wife says that we'll believe corporations are 'people' when Texas executes one of them!

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Julius Nolan 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Even the GOP people with brains and common sense are starting to realize what Brownback and his fellow right wing extremists are doing to the GOP brand.

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Thomas Bryce 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Interesting column. Almost as interesting as the article about Members of The Kansas Legislature exempting themselves from penalties if they fail a drug test. This story was left out of the On-Line Section. Wonder why? It made Front page Saturday News in the Print edition. The Kansas Legislature is writing a lot of laws lately that they are exempt from. Anybody else see a Pattern Here? Vote with Conviction this next election. Lets get some Common Sense in our State Government.We need laws that Benefit ALL Kansans, Not Just some "Chosen Few". We have waited Long enough!

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