Yesterday, a message went out from four former Kansas Governors. The message sums up very well the challenge and importance of getting the tax and budget resolutions done in a way that best addresses the real problems we face. As stated, ”half measures and quick fixes won’t get the job done.” There will always be political hurdles to raising taxes, even when done part-way. So why not have something very positive to show for the effort and the risk taken? Not going far enough will, for example, lead to continued robbing of the highway fund to get by and will guarantee even more negative results for the state. Truly solving the budget crisis will require bipartisan cooperation and courage to do what is in the best long-term interest of the state, and I hope that this experienced perspective from our former Governors of both parties can help encourage legislators to govern the state not just for the next election but for the future of all Kansans.
What I want to add is this: A big problem in underfunding key services is that the taxpayer in many ways will, over time, find themselves in an even worse financial situation. You can read more about this in my blog post, “Lower Taxes Aren’t Always Lower.” But the bottom line point is that properly funding schools and taking care of our infrastructure are wise investments for communities and the State of Kansas. When not adequately done, the quality of public school declines and highway maintenance gets far behind—which only leads to even higher costs to repair and replace that neglected infrastructure down the road. All the while, the tax burden remains (or even increases) while communities and the state decline. You find businesses not wanting to stay or expand in Kansas, and your best talent looks elsewhere to raise a family and serve their economic needs.
What surprises me most is who some of the opponents of properly funding education and infrastructure are. They present themselves as sound conservatives who look at these issues through a business investment perspective. But, for some reason, they don’t make the transfer of sound investment in business to funding our infrastructure and public education. Until recently, the modern state has always played a very important role in funding these two key needs. To fail now will severely harm our future, and the negative impacts will only multiply over time.
Please join us former Governors and many other responsible leaders in both political parties in expressing support for both the repeal of the LLC exemption and amending the tax structure to raise the money that will fund the budget deficit. Write, call, email, visit, post, whatever you can do to engage legislators who may be on the fence and thank those who are working cooperatively and courageously to solve problems in the best long-term interest of the state. Let the legislators know there is strong support for wisely investing in education and infrastructure; your persistence could make the difference.