An Open Letter To Blaine Finch, Caryn Tyson, Mark Samsel-

As our local representatives in the Kansas State House, I thought I would help you set your priorities for this year’s legislative agenda.

1. The Ottawa School District, USD 290, has 173 Homeless students, out of just over 2500 students, 173 are homeless. As children, it is not their fault. Please keep that in mind.

2. USD 290 has between 1250 – 1500 out of 2500 students who are receiving or are eligible for Federally supported free or subsidized lunches/ meals through the school. That means there are over 1100-1350 students/children, through no fault of their own, on the edge of homelessness.

3. There are over 150,000 Kansans out there without health insurance, that includes a lot of mothers and fathers of children on the edge. They need help.

4. Because there are so many Kansans without health insurance there are dozens of hospitals trying to care for them without the money/ resources to do that job. We now have the Fort Scott hospital closed with Hillsboro, Oswego, Horton, not far behind. There were 82 hospitals in 90 counties, now we are almost down to 75 and falling falling falling….

5. Since the late 1990s the state of Kansas suicide rate has risen by 45% giving this state the infamy of having the fifth highest rate in the country.

6. The rural counties are suffering from shortages of teachers, doctors, nurses, medical technicians, dentists, just about everybody needed to maintain a healthy happy community.

7. Kansas high school counselors are rarely if at all recommending to graduating seniors to go into education. They can’t count on getting a wage equal to the degree they have earned. They cannot count on getting a decent pension for the many years of service they will put in.

8. Kansas agricultural land is supposedly selling at $3000/ acre; excuse me, that is for prime land near a city. In south central Kansas a number of parcels of land went to auction and no one bid. After some arm twisting of a couple of local old-timers with a bit of money and a plea to help out those farmers that were being thrown off their farms, the land sold for less than $1000/ acre. Drive just outside Ottawa day after day and watch the signs advertising agricultural land for sale fading in the sun, lowering the asking prices, month after month.

9. The amount of cash that could have come into Kansas since 2012 with the expansion of Medicaid to cover the 150,000 Kansans is now about $3 billion. The fact that does not seem to cause any conservative legislator to wince is probably because they do not understand the “velocity of money-VOM”. A healthy state economy should be able to cycle that amount of cash into $21 billion in economic activity. Obviously, either we don’t understand VOM, or we know we have a really sad economy in this state.

10. A conservative legislator will point to the low unemployment rate in Kansas and say, “We Are Doing Great!” I submit, the low unemployment rate in Kansas hides the fact there are too many people trying to raise families on just minimum wages, not a living wage. I will further submit to you that in this age of the horseless carriage, known as a car, people are voting with their gas pedals, leaving Kansas for more prosperous states, far from here. The census will soon drop Kansas to only 2 members in the US House of Representatives.

To solve these problems, some of the required actions have already been discussed above. To go further, our Legislators need to look to our state universities as the potential economic engines they could be and are in other states. Give the professors money and the administration direction to work on solutions, not to worry so much about publishing or perishing, not so much on sports (oooh, sacrilege).

Give the universities money and tell them to develop one new crop after another- free farmers from being so economically hog-tied to wheat, corn, and soybeans. Yes, Hemp is a good start, but that is all it is- just a good start. When speaking of Hemp, help create the infrastructure for growing, harvesting, and producing value added products from Hemp. [You might as well legalize marijuana, now, as you won’t be able to tell the difference from Hemp, growing out in those fields.]

Please, turn your backs on the billionaire libertarians who bear direct responsibility for the above list of “successes”.

Please, give your neighbors, our good people of Kansas your utmost attention. Please think about what you can do for the students, their children. Please remember the 173 homeless children, it is not their fault.

— John Holland, Ottawa