Paid for Pringle for Senate, Mary Jane Shanklin, Treasurer
Kansas needs to increase its’ efforts to create jobs, and provide better opportunities for our citizens. Our state government should be more aggressive in encouraging the development of advanced technologies in energy production, and related industries. Home-grown energy (wind and solar) will help provide a strong foundation for new business development, especially in rural areas.
The challenge for Kansas is to improve the diversity of its economy. We need to utilize the strengths of our university system in order to foster innovative solutions, and move our states’ economy forward.
Agriculture provides the most economic revenue of any industry in our state. We must support the research efforts of Kansas State University to provide farmers and ranchers with new ideas and techniques, improving profitability, and helping to keep the tradition of agriculture alive and well in the Sunflower State.
Our economy is also dependent on a strong, updated infrastructure. In addition to the roads and bridges, we need to think of advanced broadband technology and an upgraded grid system as vitally important to the long-term health of our economy. This will be especially critical in the small rural communities and farms/ranches. We cannot forget any of the 105 counties in our state as we move to develop a more diverse economy for future generations of Kansans.
Our public schools must be fully supported, and equitably funded at all levels. Better salaries for teachers, more classroom support, and maintaining stable, long-term funding from state government. School funding is the number-one priority of state government. However, the present funding formula, a.k.a. “block” funding is inadequate for most school districts, and puts poorer districts at risk, especially those in the rural areas.
We have to return to a funding formula that will fund our schools consistently, and on an equitable basis. Otherwise, many districts will continue to fall behind in performance and quality, subjecting our children to diminished learning opportunities, and a less-prosperous life after graduation. It is our responsibility to make the school system better, for their sake, and for the sake of Kansas.
As your State Senator, I will work to end the Brownback-Republican tax program, and implement an equitable tax system. This will mean phasing out the LLC exemption, and eliminating the loopholes that more than 300,000 Kansans use to avoid paying their fair share of income tax.
We need to restore tax fairness for our state. Otherwise, we will continue to force many counties to continue raising property taxes, as well as sales taxes, too. These ever-increasing taxes will disproportionally effect our poorer citizens, and counties.
The present system of valuation on agricultural land will also be at risk, thanks to the continued shortfall of revenue for the state government. Property taxes on farm/ranch land have steadily increased in the past few years, and changing to a market-based valuation system would impose hefty hikes on this property. In some cases, the amount would reach several hundred percent. Such a change in tax policy would be a disaster for our farming and ranching economy, and our state’s economy, too.
One of the most damaging aspects of the Brownback/Republican tax program has been the continuing decline of our state highway system. The Kansas Department of Transportation has been used as “bank” in order to patch holes in the state budget, and is on track to be $2 billion dollars in debt by the end of this fiscal year. That amount is larger than the annual budget of the agency.
The robbery of road funds is putting both travel safety and state commerce at risk, and it will only become more expensive and time-consuming to address these problems. Kansas is ranked #4 of out 50 states in the number of highway miles. Based on current estimates, the shortfall of funds will drastically limit KDOT’s ability to maintain roads and bridges, dropping from 1500 miles per year to 200 miles per year.
Replenishing the road fund needs to be a top priority in the next Legislative session. The best way forward is to return to an equitable tax system, one that will restore tax fairness to all Kansans, and get KDOT back on track for our state’s future.
Kansas needs to go forward with the expansion of Medicaid. Otherwise, we will continue subjecting our hospitals to greater financial hardship, especially hospitals in the rural parts of our state. Governor Brownback refusal to expand Medicaid was based on politics, and NOT health considerations for the more vulnerable citizens of Kansas.
The continued denial of Medicaid expansion will only put more small and medium-sized at risk for closure, given the reduced level of reimbursement and support. The closure of Mercy Hospital in Independence should serve as a wake-up call for all of us.
Renewable Energy/Climate Change
As a state, Kansas must do its part in the fight against climate change. One of the best ways we can do that is by increasing the amount of energy that is produced by renewable sources such as wind turbines and solar energy.
Kansas has the second-highest wind potential in the United States. We should go forward, and increase our generating capacity of wind energy. This would provide clean, home-grown energy, while creating solid job growth, as well.
Our state can be a leader in this effort to increase the production of renewable energy, and also help reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. It’s the right thing to do for our state, and our children’s future.