As the general election draws nearer, it is refreshing to see the number of new candidates filing to run for the newly established 59th House District, covering Ottawa, as well as the other offices. It is unfortunate it took a group of judges — rather than the legislators duly tasked with the job — to perform the redistricting work.

With the next round of elections, the public should be more cautious about knowing all the stances behind particular candidates, rather than just being preoccupied with social issues. Social issues are an easy way for politicians to get voters to align with them without having to disclose their full agendas. Such might have been the case when a majority of Kansans voted for Sam Brownback to be the Sunflower State’s governor.

Brownback is well-known for being ultra-conservative on social issues. He could be counted on for opposition to abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research and issues that could be seen as religious infringement. He said he would oppose such issues, and he has. The part that caught many voters off guard — though it shouldn’t have — was his fiscal policies. Brownback said he would reduce taxes — and he got it done. Now many predict a big train wreck can’t be far behind because of a projected $2-billion reduction in state taxes. Those kind of cuts can’t occur without a tremendous influx of economic development from new industries locating in the state. And that doesn’t happen quickly; even if it did, business growth isn’t of staggering proportions yet.

The other leg of the stool is a reduction in expenses because, let’s face it, the likelihood of all those new dollars coming in soon are slim, so get ready for some unbelievable cuts in expenses. If schools think they’ve had it bad so far, they can’t even imagine what is yet to come once an inadequate amount of tax money is flowing into the state’s coffers. The state Board of Education estimated school budgets will be cut by as much as 40 percent in the coming years to offset budget shortfalls.

Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, Brownback characterized his tax plan as a “real live experiment.” That information must be comforting to those trying to figure out who to believe in this mess.

“Unfortunately, this ‘experiment’ will bankrupt our state and create a $2.7-billion deficit within five years,” Rochelle Chronister, with Traditional Republicans for Common Sense, said in a press release Tuesday.

One thing is certain: Brownback said he would cut taxes and he did.

Voters shouldn’t believe though that one action doesn’t happen without a requisite reaction. Those tax cuts equal a reduction in services — social services, education, court services, the arts, state parks, roads and highways, state health and law enforcement services and all the other things that state funds pay for.

Be discriminating on who you vote for, and press them to tell the full story about where they stand on the issues. The proverbial “rest of the story” might include more than voters intended.


— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher