Consider current races for the Kansas Legislature among the more important in many years.
The state’s fiscal woes have been well documented since Gov. Sam Brownback turned Kansas hard right. After his massive income-tax cuts gutted revenue, Kansas chewed through a $700 million surplus, diverted more than $1 billion from highway projects and delayed payments to the state’s pension system and public schools.
It’s led to unprecedented borrowing and multiple credit downgrades.
Brownback’s ultraconservative alliance even approved the biggest tax increase in state history last year, a sales-tax hike that left Kansas with one of the nation’s higher taxes on food — and still didn’t fix state budget woes.
Kansas also has rejected more than $1.2 billion in federal Medicaid dollars (so far), harming area health-care providers and recipients.
The least popular governor in the nation didn’t act alone, however. His faithful co-conspirators, Sen. Larry Powell of Garden City included, also are to blame.
We desperately need change in our representation of the 39th Senate District covering Finney, Grant, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Kearny, Morton, Stanton, Stevens and Wichita counties.
Republican Rep. John Doll — a former Garden City commissioner and mayor who’s served two terms in the Kansas House — has a strong rural Kansas background, with family farm and feed-yard experience. He’s also been a teacher, coach and small business operator.
He’s pro-life, supports the Second Amendment and wants economic development-friendly initiatives to improve schools and roads.
Doll believes in fair taxation. He had no part in Brownback’s income-tax cuts that went too far, too fast, and knows the failed tax policy must be revisited.
The incumbent Powell, a wealthy rancher, wants to continue the personal and business income-tax breaks designed to benefit folks like him, and claims Kansas is “doing fine.”
He and others who won’t acknowledge reality are the problem.
A self-described “localist,” Doll also regularly reaches out to constituents. Not Powell, who practically bragged about not returning phone calls from home — which isn’t a surprise from a blind follower of special-interest groups that also guide the governor.
Southwest Kansas needs a state senator who will listen, study issues and act in the region’s best interests.
That’s Doll, who deserves voter support in the Aug. 2 Republican primary.