Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Opinion: The Hawver Report - Nov. 14, 2018

By Martin Hawver

How would you like to be elected governor of Kansas by about 46,000 votes on Tuesday and on Friday learn that you’re going to have $306.4 million more to spend than you thought?
Columnist Martin Hawver
Martin Hawver
Doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Well, that’s exactly what has happened to Gov.-elect Laura Kelly, who by the way beat Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach who pledged during his campaign to start cutting taxes quickly if elected.
Well, Kelly isn’t talking tax cuts, she’s talking investment in schools, expanding Medicaid and balancing the budget without new taxes—and that was before she heard about the $306 million windfall which the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group unveiled Friday. The CREG meets twice a year, in November and April, to predict upcoming state revenues.
This might be an interesting four years ahead with a governor who wants to first take care of the state’s responsibilities that have been avoided the past several years before talking about tax cuts. The new money is good, of course, but we’re not yet constitutionally “adequate” on state aid to schools and are making little progress in restoring money that has been “swept” out of agency budgets for highway construction, pensions and such.
No, we’re not looking for Kelly to start handing out tax cuts while she’s waiting for her stationery and business cards to be printed up.
In fact, even before that $306 million windfall, Kelly was talking about waiting until next April’s Consensus Revenue Estimate before giving much thought to tax cuts—after she’s nailed down the spending necessary to restore state government duties.
Part of that, of course, is her experience as a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee—which makes the appropriations and cuts necessary to balance the budget. It’s been more cuts than appropriations in the past few years, and she’s made clear that restoration of services is first in line, ahead of tax cuts.
What’s it mean? Well, from a Statehouse viewpoint, it probably means a rather complicated “State of the State” message when lawmakers come back to town in mid-January. She’s a details person, likely to talk more about programs that need to be rebuilt or financed adequately than new programs that Republicans tend to spend a lot of time trying to think up catchy names (or acronyms) for.
Don’t look for flash.
Now, remember that she’s going to face an overwhelmingly Republican legislature that is probably going to be more interested in cutting taxes than rebuilding the state payroll of social workers and helping local school districts rebuild their staff of teachers and aides.
Key there is for the governor to convince those conservatives in the Legislature that the not-very-flashy care of the poor and ill and their children are the best way to improve the state before cutting taxes.
Tax cuts? They will probably start with the sales tax on food. It’s a big deal for the poor who see the cost of a can of beans at 9% or 10% (depending on local sales taxes) more than the shelf price before they get it out of the store and into the kitchen.  Oh, and it also means that those steaks and salmon are cheaper, too, but it’s not an afford-it or not decision for more prosperous Kansans.
That $306 million? Well, it gives Kelly some negotiating room, enough spare cash to bargain a dab of tax cut in return for the social service, highway construction and health-care expenditures she’d like to make.
But all that new direction in state spending that Kelly proposes will ultimately be keyed off of the makeup of the Legislature, and whether that top-heavy Republican majority in both chambers is solid enough to pass veto-proof legislation.
We’ll see. Check back in April…
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com

Monday, November 5, 2018

Opinion: The Contentious Words and Name Calling Turns

Kevin Surbaugh

photographer Kevin Surbaugh
The November election is tomorrow. How many people will vote tomorrow? Last week Douglas County reported that 23% had already voted (through Oct 29).  Since then the Kansas Secretary of State has reported 300,000 had already cast a vote in early voting statewide.  That kind of turnout is unprecedented, for a midterm election. Will that turnout hold true through election day tomorrow.  We will see, but for now, let's focus on my endorsements for this years election.

On the Federal level, you probably already seen my endorsement of Steve Watkins over Paul Davis.
photographer Kevin Surbaugh
In the race for Governor of the Great State of Kansas, Laura Kelly (Democrat), Kris Kobach (Republican), and Greg Orman (Independent) are considered to be the three battling it out.  There are two others running, another independent and a Libertarian. They aren't even polling higher then single digits,  Then again, neither is Orman. So why is he considered a major candidate and the other two aren't? It goes back to when, he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate against Pat Roberts, when without a Democrat in the race, he came in a strong second place.

The Governor's race is interesting to me. It, of course, is the meat and potatoes in Kansas politics. Our focus boils down to Kelly and Kobach.  Polling, which I had alluded to already, have the race very tight. A poll conducted by Emmerson has Kobach edging Kelly 44% to 43% in a poll conducted between October 26 and 28.
In another poll, conducted about the same time (Oct 17-27), ISPOS and Reuters in conjunction with the Virginia Center of Politics reported that Kelly edged out Kobach 43% to 41%, in a statistical dead heat.
The race has been interesting, to say the least. Like both of the Congressional races in eastern Kansas, it has been contentious. With former Republican Governors and U.S. Senators endorsing the Democrat. Republicans who have ignored Ronald Reagan statement, "never say anything bad about fellow Republicans."  It is true that Republican politicians have supported Democrats before, likewise, Democrats support Republicans. However, those instances were done in secret. Not publicly broadcasted. It is part what is expected from the leadership of any party. I, myself have personally served as a precinct committeeman. A position that, in part elects the chair and other leadership of their respective party. In turn, they also help promote the candidates of their party, they cannot publicly support any candidate from another party. Doing so goes against the grain of what they were elected to do. So the actions and statements by that handful of Republicans (some of who I call friends) are disappointing.
So, who am I endorsing? Well, I actually cast my vote, with having to be in the office until 4:30 and then driving in rush hour traffic back to home, it was just easier. Even though I am among the 23% plus that has already voted, it is important for me to lay out my cards and tell my readers who I voted for and thus who I encourage each of you to vote for also. That candidate is Kris Kobach. True, there are issues I disagree with him on.  One of which is medical marijuana. Something that has been proven to offer relief for some kinds of pain and medical conditions. Something that Missouri and Utah are voting on tomorrow to join the growing list of states that will legalize it for those with a doctors prescription. I think Kobach could come around with some education.   His commitment to hold the line on taxes is a big reason I support him.
State Representative
In the race for state representative, Eileen Horn is running unopposed, so I wrote my own name in.  If you so chose, you can also write in the name of D. Kevin Surbaugh for state representative. I have not campaigned for the position, nor will I, but I will accept the position if there are enough write-in votes.
Live Reporting
Finally, I will be live posting results as they come in tomorrow night. The first post I expect will be around 7:30, thirty minutes after the polls close. Who will win? We will find out tomorrow night.