Kansas Crossroads

The top issues that affect most Kansans aren't abortion, illegal immigration and gay marriage.

Sure, advocates on all sides of those debates attract more than their fair share of ink, air and cyberspace.

But they also distract attention from the major issues that elected leaders will face during the next four years.

There won't be many campaign ads talking about funding the public employee pension system, fixing crumbling buildings at universities or dealing with the outmigration of large areas of rural Kansas.

But these are the issues that will affect tax rates, personal income and the quality of life in Kansas for generations.

During the next six weeks, the Journal-World will present these issues to readers and call on the major party gubernatorial candidates - Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, and State Sen. Jim Barnett, a Republican - to address them.

Water crisis demands attention
October 15, 2006
Beneath the soil of landlocked Kansas lies a vast, life-sustaining source of water called the High Plains aquifer. Formed millions of years ago, the aquifer - also referred to as the Ogallala - underlies an area of 174,000 square miles in parts of eight states, including most of western Kansas. Since the 1940s, farmers have ferociously pumped the aquifer to produce food for a hungry nation and world.
What the candidates say about the aquifer
October 15, 2006
What do you think of the drawdown of the High Plains (sometimes called the Ogallala) aquifer? Is it a problem and how important? What have you done in the past to meet this challenge and what will you do in the future?
Task force working to bolster towns
October 8, 2006
Like many small towns in Kansas, Onaga in Pottawatomie County was drifting into dormancy.
Shrinking population vexes rural Kansas
October 8, 2006
Waiting to deliver a load of sunflowers at a processing plant, dryland farmer Tim Peterson was of two minds about rural Kansas. On one hand, some folks rooted in the vast stretches of empty landscape have become energized by innovation and entrepreneurship, he said.
Neglecting our future?
Technical education is key to the economy of Kansas, but many say it’s not getting its due
October 1, 2006
In Kansas, four out of five jobs require training beyond high school but not a full four-year degree.
School suit means more stability, but much is unsettled
Funding issue expected to top legislative agenda
September 24, 2006
Children in this year’s kindergarten class in Kansas were the first in many years to start their education out from under the shadow of a school finance lawsuit.
Candidates spar over school funding
September 24, 2006
Will the $466 million, three-year school funding increase break the state budget?
Questions and answers from Sebelius, Barnett
September 24, 2006
Crumbling colleges
Maintenance deferred by politics
September 17, 2006
In 1999, most Kansas lawmakers couldn’t vote fast enough to increase taxes and sink the state in debt to fund a $13 billion, 10-year highway plan. Sure, there were political skirmishes along the way, but the plan to raise taxes and borrow $1 billion was approved by wide margins with minor prodding by the highway industry.
Gubernatorial candidates weigh in on making repairs
September 17, 2006
If elected, what would you do, if anything, to pay for deferred maintenance and repairs at Kansas institutions of higher education?
A plan for pensions: What’s next for the state’s public employee retirement system?
Legislature faces critical decisions about KPERS
September 10, 2006
With test scores up and the school finance lawsuit recently settled, Kansas’ public school teachers have launched into a new and promising school year. Most of those teachers, however, have no idea their careers are at the center of a gathering storm in the Statehouse.