Free Markets, Free People

The Fight In Kansas

While California’s budget debacle seems to be catching most of the MSM coverage, there’s an interesting drama in Kansas going on as well.  Kansas pits a Democratic governor against a Republican legislature.

The situation:

Income tax refunds and state employee paychecks could be late after Republican leaders and the Democratic governor clashed Monday over how to solve a cash-flow problem.

Payments to Medicaid providers and schools also could be delayed.

“We are out of cash, in essence,” state budget director Duane Goossen said.

The move places state taxpayers, workers and schoolchildren in the middle of a political battle over budget cuts.

Before we move on, note how the situation is framed. Clearly, at least to me, the bias leans toward what? Averting pain. In essence the state should do what is necessary – even if illegal and counterproductive – to avoid any pain.

The fight then, is about pain avoidance or, said another way, facing up to what excessive spending and poor budgeting has brought to the state of Kansas.

Why? Well what happens to politicians when pain is visited on voters? So it’s a very natural thing for politicians who enjoy the perks and power of office and harbor hopes of even higher office to want to avoid pain and the possiblity of losing that power and those perks.

That is essentially what is going on in KS where the governor wants to rob one fund which is healthy to pay out in other areas and the legislature is saying a) that’s illegal and b) we insist instead that we take a hard look at the situation and do things which will actually remedy it while, unfortunately, causing some pain.

The fight:

Republicans, who hold majorities in both chambers, blocked Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ proposal to borrow $225 million from healthy state funds to cover shortages in accounts used to meet the state’s payroll and issue tax refunds.

GOP leaders said they won’t approve the IOUs until Sebelius either cuts the current budget herself or signs the bill they passed last week slashing $326 million — including $32 million for education — to balance the budget.

Republican leaders said they had no choice, that by law the state can’t borrow any more money from itself.

Sebelius and Democrats disagree and accuse the GOP of playing politics with people’s paychecks.

“Through their refusal to act today, the Republican legislative leadership is jeopardizing our citizens’ pocketbooks for no other reason than to play political games — games in which the only ones set to lose are Kansas families, workers and schools,” Sebelius said in a written statement.

Replied House Speaker Mike O’Neal: “While we all can agree that these are trying times for Kansas families, seniors and business owners, the Kansas House of Representatives respectfully disagrees with breaking the law in order to gain political capital.”

Notice the Governor and Democrats come back – the GOP is “playing politics with people’s paychecks”. But what is the Governor trying to “play” with:

The Governor is asking the Legislature to be complicit in breaking the law by approving certificates of indebtedness outside of the parameters set in statute. Kansas law requires the Director of the Budget to certify that money will be present at the end of the year to pay off certificates of indebtedness, and there is no evidence that will be the case. There is no reason to believe that under the current budget such money will be available. It is irresponsible and illegal to act as if the money will be available when all economic indicators show that we may see even less.

So, in fact, it appears that the GOP isn’t “playing” with anything to include the law, while the Governor wants to waive it so she doesn’t have to face the music and make the cuts necessary to bring the budget of Kansas back into balance.

Given that, which then is the “reality based” group in Kansas? And, after adapting to the new reality, to include the pain it will bring, do you think Kansas will be on the road to recovery faster than some state where pain avoidance is being practiced? Last, but not least – want to bet Governor Sebelius delays signing the bill which would require such cuts hoping the “stimulus” bill to be signed today by Obama will rescue her and help keep her from having to make that difficult decision (and avoid the pain)?

Pain avoidance for political purposes or rule of law?  Screw the law, opt for pain avoidance, even if illegal.

That’s exactly the type person I want as my governor.  [/sarc]


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11 Responses to The Fight In Kansas

  • I am sooooo glad that there is no income tax here in Texas for them to get “creative” with.

  • She sounds like the perfect choice for Commerce…

  • This, sadly, seems to be the American way.  “Gastric Bypass Politics” I call it.  Rather than exercise fiscal responsibility and go on a tax and spend diet, we’d much rather allow our budgets to grow morbidly obese while we compulsively (and/or greedily) stuff our gobs.  Invariably, we come in at the last minute and take drastic measures to prevent complete collapse.  (I’m stretching the metaphor a bit thin, but it’s terribly apt.)

    To switch metaphors, delaying the pain only makes it worse.  It’s far better to go see the dentist for a filling than a root canal.

  • What’s interesting is the tendency to break the law in service of “a good cause”.   Laws?  We don’t need no stinking laws…..

    • lookerWhat’s interesting is the tendency to break the law in service of “a good cause”.

      To my mind, this is actually the worst part of the story.  If a politician can ignore one law in the service of a “good cause”, then he can ignore ALL of them.  Who needs a constitution, codes and statutes?  Just write one law: “Do whatever it takes to make a majority of people happy.”

  • Back when I was an AAG and agency counsel for an unnamed fee-funded Kansas state agency, we had our budget raided by Sebelius in this manner in the past.  They tend to balance the budget in this manner on a semi-regular basis, shifting money around, delaying payments and issuing certificates of indebtednes, but this is the first time that there is a clear picture that there is not going to be any money to pay those certificates back.  Add to that the festering unfunded wound that is KPERS, the KSC decision that the system used to distribute money  (@$2.7 billion or @50% of the state budget) to the public school system was unconstitutional and needed to be increased by @$850 million over several years, I am surpised we did not got broke as a state back in 2005 or 2006.

  • The wealthy don’t mind when the poor feel the pain.  They want the poor to feel the pain.  They pretend that lower taxes for themselves will help the poor.  Such folk are learning the hard way that their lies will not be believed anymore. 

    • As usual, the designated idiot responds – The “poor”.  What a glorious excuse.  I came from a blue collar family Scottie, my dad retired making about $15,000 a year, my mom worked. My first job out of college I made more than my dad did after his 30 years at GE.   I was the 5th of 6 kids, and the first one to get a college education, and that was based on loans, which were paid back.  If we couldn’t afford to do something WE DIDN’T DO IT.  We didn’t buy things we couldn’t afford to buy.  We didn’t take trips we couldn’t afford to take.  Regardless of who is RICH and who is POOR, GOVERNMENT doesn’t have the RIGHT to take money from the RICH and re-distribute it.  And if it does then I want to be very very sure that YOU feel the pain when they come and take your sh!t to give it to someone who is less well off than you.  If you are interested in redistribution to make things ‘fair’ you should be first in line to reduce your standard of living in order to raise someone elses.  If you’re not willing to do that, shut up, you over educated liberal blowhard.

    • If the rich don’t care about the poor, why on earth would they pretend to help them?

      If you had the choice of being poor in the US or poor in China, which would you choose?

      Oh yes, I forget.  You’re an academic.  Nevermind.

  • The arrogance of his statement, the mindless, unthinking, kneejerk response – “the rich don’t care about the poor”.  Sure all ‘Rich’ people are b@stards , right?  Except the rich people in Congress of course, of which there seem to be and many Democrats (Nancy P is hardly poor) ….a lot….and the rich people in Hollywood, and, and…  Oh, right!!!! Scott’s not talking about THOSE rich people, he really means the heartless b@stards of the Republican party but doesn’t have the cajones to say it because it might make him look like he was being judgemental beyond the normal mindless “hate the rich cuz that’s okay kids!”  liberal thinking.   

  • I think that the “Scott Erb” liberal simulation program is bugged up (is it a Microsoft product?).  First of all, the output is a good bit shorter than normal.  Further, the output doesn’t appear to have any logical connection to the topic of the post, which is about the budget crunch in Kansas and the efforts by the dem (spit) governor to cook the books.  Finally, the output includes shibboleths (e.g. “They [the rich] want the poor to feel the pain”) that are ridiculous even by normal program standards.

    Somebody needs to call tech support ASAP.