Archive for Sunday, May 12, 2013

Editorial: Shirking state

May 12, 2013


Some recent state spending decisions raise real questions about the legitimate role of government.

When Gov. Sam Brownback spearheaded the move to eliminate funding for the Kansas Arts Commission, he contended that promoting the arts across Kansas was not a legitimate use of taxpayer money.

Can the same be said about protecting the public’s health?

As an example of how local governments are having to pick up the slack for state funding cuts, Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug pointed to a request from the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department for an additional $20,470 to cover the cost of processing tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The state previously had processed such tests for free for people considered high risk — a category that covered a large percentage of those tested. The state stopped processing HIV tests on Jan. 1, 2013, and will stop providing tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia on Jan. 1, 2014.

The decision to discontinue this service without making any provision for it to be continued at the local level apparently indicates that the state no longer thinks that diagnosing and monitoring sexually transmitted diseases in the state is a matter of protecting the public’s health and, therefore, a legitimate use of taxpayer money. If the state thought the tests were important but could be processed more efficiently or cheaply at the local level, it should have provided funding to local agencies to provide that service. As it is, the state is saying this matter isn’t important enough for it to deal with; counties can decide on their own how to provide funding for testing — or not. This health issue no longer is the state’s concern.

The current cost-cutting efforts of state government should spur serious conversation about what Brownback often calls “core government services.” Are some of the services being cut really not worthy of tax support or is that rationale just a way of pushing more government responsibilities onto a different set of taxpayers at the local level? If a public health issue like monitoring sexually transmitted diseases in the state no longer is considered a “core government service,” it’s troubling to consider what other functions of government will soon be added to that list.


Lawrence Morgan 5 years, 1 month ago

Again an excellent editorial.

Monitoring sexually transmitted diseases is very important, because people may be affected without their even knowing about the many different diseases which can occur.

The editorial raises many important questions - which need answers - about Governor Brownback's use or non-use of government funds.

And - on a different version of the same topic - how many of these sexually-transmitted diseases are taught in school, if at all - and if so, at which grade level?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

The Sam ALEC Brownback government is in the process of phasing out public education so how in the world can state government make that decision without a state wide vote?

It seems the taxpayers of Kansas should make that decision. Let's be democratic and put this matter to a vote. Until a vote has been accomplished on a ballot nothing should change and all funding should be reinstated until such time.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 1 month ago

I think we vote for people that vote on stuff like that. Majority rule, and they wanted Brownback.

adastraperapathy 5 years, 1 month ago

True. On a budgeting decision like this, we do have to deal with the government the people of the state of Kansas chose.

Still, I wish the people of the state of Kansas would have a more longterm outlook. Letting STDs go undetected in the population eventually end up hurting a lot of people who are not "high-risk".

Abdu Omar 5 years, 1 month ago

You are right, Merrill, but the vote should be a referendum on his ability to be governor. He has stripped important services, education and now health. What more can this man do as governor until the people (voters) of this state say 'enough'?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

The ALEC people and Sam Brownback are now in a rush to accomplish their right wing goals because Sam and the Koch doctrine have been exposed.

The ill respect for court decisions by this GOP,Koch boys and Sam Brownback are also quite revealing. Kansas is not the only state these Koch driven ALEC thinkers are penetrating. Voters are not liking what they are getting.

I say the Koch doctrine is all about over throwing the USA . Republicans are no longer republicans. The kansas delegation in Topeka and Washington D.C. are all about the Koch New World Order doctrine. Reality.

Armstrong 5 years, 1 month ago

Too much coffee this morning Merrill ?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't drink coffee....

I prefer water....

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Better than drinking the tea and Kool-aid served in Topeka these days.

vuduchyld 5 years, 1 month ago

What about those who are NOT "high risk" but still contract HIV?

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 1 month ago

So you want to see HIV and venereal disease rates climbing again...why???

I knew there would be at least one person here eager to "blame the victims" by claiming they aren't really victims...and deliberately ignoring the people who are faithful spouses. Don't they count?

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago


Some like to blame, others are more interested in solutions.

What about the faithful spouse whose husband/wife is cheating on them without their knowledge?

deec 5 years, 1 month ago

What about children born with STD-caused birth defects or a positive HIV status? I suppose it's their fault as well?

How about rape victims?

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

And so they should get the death penalty, because it offends you?

adastraperapathy 5 years, 1 month ago

As others have pointed out, the spread of STDs eventually ends up hurting a lot of "low-risk" people. So, while it is true that people have to be responsible for their decisions, we can encourage responsibility by making it simple and cheap for people to find out if they are carrying an STD.

That way they might seek treatment or change their behavior before they engage in more risky behavior that can end up hurting their current and future partners and/or families.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

How does this administration get away with "misbehavior"?

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

We could consider as part of the conversation the proper level of government to provide the service. The higher up we go the more difficulty in equitably distributing the benefits and costs.

If "enlightened" Douglas County wants to do something perhaps unenlightened (fill in any western county) might not. Why should they have to pay for a service they do not want.

Taxes should be levied as close to the beneficiary as possible. Only when there is substantial agreement on a service should it be funded at a higher level.

adastraperapathy 5 years, 1 month ago

Why should we have a state if all decisions should be made by local governments? Especially on matters of public health, which do not know city limits or county lines, it's important to have a more encompassing policy.

The person who catches an STD in Kansas City on the weekend could have a wife and kids in Dodge City or Salina.

Yet we should only have testing in some communities of the state but not others?

I agree that there should be local discretion. But on the big issues (and I think stopping the spread of STDs is one), we probably should have a statewide plan.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

As I said, we should have this conversation. That said the people with whom you should have it live out west. If they agree with your argument then it is a state function. If not - well if you want it you pay for it.

In my world there is no room for you to tell them what they need. Perhaps that is what is happening in the legislature. They have decided that this function is not critical to them or that they will address it in some other way. If they are the majority - guess what - they win.

And oh by the way, I agree with you on this particular function .

jayhawklawrence 5 years, 1 month ago

Another great editorial.

Let's keep asking the right questions and looking for answers that make sense.

adastraperapathy 5 years, 1 month ago

Do you think providing some kind of funding to promote scientific and technological industries is a legitimate function of government?

Do you think that scientific and technological industries are apt to thrive without arts and culture?

Governments all over the world have funded arts, including in some of the most economically successful eras of human history (the Renaissance, Elizabethan England, Enlightenment Europe, the great World Fairs of the 19th and 20th Century). Not to mention government financing for athletic initiatives and activities, which I think most people would consider of equal value to artistic activities.

I agree that the bulk of spending on the arts should come from private sources, but the state of Kansas was already spending a scintilla of its budget on the arts before the Governor decided to cut what little the state of Kansas was contributing.

question4u 5 years, 1 month ago

"Kansas is building a culture of life."

--Sam Brownback

Don't worry Sam. There's no need to backpedal or try to explain how doing less to control the spread of a deadly disease is "building a culture of life." No one believed you in the first place.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Culture of life = forced birth. Once you're born, Sam doesn't care.

Brian Laird 5 years, 1 month ago

Bad analogy. Lung cancer can't be spread from person to person, so it is more of an individual health not a public health issue. However, free lung cancer screenings are not really a bad idea, as catching it early could significantly reduce societal costs later.

verity 5 years, 1 month ago

So, nobody should be having sex as they might get an STD from an unfaithful spouse who they trusted?

That would certainly solve our overpopulation problem.

deec 5 years, 1 month ago

It's interesting to see just where STDs are most common. Chlamydia, for example has high rates all over most of the state.I wonder how much control the children 10-14 years old had over their exposure to gonorrhea. I guess most of them shouldn't have lived with or around child molesters. And I guess the 91% of early syphilis sufferers (males) should have kept it in their pants.

John McCoy 5 years, 1 month ago

Sam Brownback is the illegitimate son of Rupert Murdoch.

KDHE_PIO 5 years, 1 month ago

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a strategic decision to reallocate HIV prevention resources based on the burden of disease in accordance with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Also, Douglas County continues to have a publicly funded HIV testing site. Read:

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