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.


KDHE_PIO 11 months 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:


John McCoy 11 months, 1 week ago

Sam Brownback is the illegitimate son of Rupert Murdoch.


deec 11 months, 1 week 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.


Dont_Tread_On_Me 11 months, 1 week ago

Why should I have to pay to test for other people's unhealthy behavior? Should we pay for free lung cancer screenings for all smokers?


question4u 11 months, 1 week 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.


fmrl 11 months, 1 week ago

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce has been running the Legislature for many years. The corporate takeover of government is fascism and that's exactly what we have. This has come about because the newspapers have allowed it and mischaracterized these politicians as "ultra conservative." That is a label which is appealing to many voters but there is nothing conservative about fascism. We'll see what happens with the sales tax vote and if these pols fully expose their hypocrisy. That said, I fully agree that subsidizing the "arts" industry is not a legitimate function of government. I don't think it's logical to compare public health with what may or may not be art.


jayhawklawrence 11 months, 1 week ago

Another great editorial.

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


George Lippencott 11 months, 2 weeks 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.


Richard Heckler 11 months, 2 weeks ago

How does this administration get away with "misbehavior"?


weiser 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Those at "high risk" have known what perpetuates HIV for years. So there should be no question. So taxes go to those who ignore the reasons and choose not to follow the facts.


Abdu Omar 11 months, 2 weeks 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 11 months, 2 weeks 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.


Lawrence Morgan 11 months, 2 weeks 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?


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