February 16, 2017
There was a time when this was a nation of big ideas . . . of individuals and politicians who dreamed of what was possible and then set about to make those dreams come true.
Not anymore. Today’s politicians are incapable of seeing more than two years down the road from one election cycle to the next.
Our nation’s interstate highway system the largest infrastructure project undertaken in this country couldn’t happen today.
And President John F. Kennedy’s challenge in 1961 of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” before the end of the decade would be impossible for today’s politicians to comprehend.
The inability of many politicians to serve more than our own immediate political interests has been exemplified in Kansas with the Brownback Administration’s ideas for filling in massive budget gaps until the governor can exit office and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.
He has sacrificed our state’s infrastructure by stealing about $1.3 billion from the Kansas Department of Transportation. Funding has become so limited that Brownback is proposing a budget in which KDOT would resurface just 235 miles of state roads in the upcoming year. That compares to 1,436 miles per year from 201115.
The governor continues to push the idea of “securitization” of tobacco settlement money that goes into the Childrens’ Initiative Fund. The CIF supports earlychildhood programs that benefit thousands of Kansas families.
Brownback wants to sell off hundreds of millions of dollars in future tobacco payments for only a fraction of their worth. The best part at least for Brownback is that he collects the money up front and normal funding for the CIF continues for two years until (get this) Brownback leaves office.
“The securitization option could help the Legislature avoid cuts to other government services while still fully funding all of the children’s programs for the next two years,” said Brownback communications director Melika Willoughby in defense of the plan.
After two years, however, there would be no tobacco funding for the CIF. That funding would disappear for the next 2030 years.
But, as Willoughby confirmed, the primary concern for Brownback is to patch together a budget plan for the next two years.
Unfortunately, that’s also today’s politics.