www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Brownback's budget -1/26/2015, 9:59 AM

Committee meetings begin -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Excitement starts at Capitol -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

What's happening with oil prices? -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Synthetic biology, brave new world -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Today's fierce urgency is voter mobilization -1/25/2015, 5:02 PM

Duke, Muslims and politics of intimidation -1/25/2015, 5:02 PM

Right to hunt -1/25/2015, 5:02 PM

Pipeline: Foreign profits, American risk -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

Social Darwinist 'Christianity' -- Chapter 3 -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

Kiwanis generosity -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

The state economy -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

Restate of the union -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

France needs our First Amendment -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

Repurposing Washington -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

March for Life -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

Brownback, the budget and schools -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

Sensible checks are no assault on gun rights -1/19/2015, 9:50 AM

Jeb Bush chooses expedience on marriage issue -1/19/2015, 9:50 AM

The State of the State Address and the legislative session -1/19/2015, 8:47 AM

Spending's not the culprit in budget woes -1/18/2015, 3:32 PM

Pilgrim's paradise -1/18/2015, 3:32 PM

Spring elections -1/18/2015, 3:23 PM

Kobach is back -1/16/2015, 3:04 PM

More with Les -1/16/2015, 10:03 AM

Understanding Hooper -1/16/2015, 10:02 AM

Basic economics -1/16/2015, 10:01 AM

Female governance -1/15/2015, 9:37 AM

2015 energy policy -- a unique opportunity -1/15/2015, 9:37 AM

The better option -1/15/2015, 9:36 AM

'Wall Street' a waste -1/14/2015, 2:50 PM

Trade already -1/14/2015, 2:49 PM

No media bias? -1/14/2015, 2:48 PM

Retirement funds -1/14/2015, 2:47 PM

Redefining public education in Kansas -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

What the future holds -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

Efficient education -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

Terrorists usher in the 'End of Satire' -1/12/2015, 9:14 AM

Sexuality, lame logic, substandard science -1/12/2015, 9:14 AM

A tragic family story -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

For freedom, LGBT rights, a year of decision -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

Roberts' promotion -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

FHSU campaign -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

Fairness in U.S. -1/9/2015, 3:05 PM

Liberals' use of black people -- Part II -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Social Darwinist 'Christians' -- Chapter 2 -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Taxing situation -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Trust: Society depends on it -1/8/2015, 9:55 AM

Education schools lack a paradigm -1/8/2015, 9:55 AM

Congress convenes -1/7/2015, 10:07 AM

Simple way to fix gridlock: change committees -1/7/2015, 10:06 AM

Kansas is your customer -1/7/2015, 10:06 AM

Large budget shortfalls await solution -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

The state and funding K-12 education -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

Tree removal -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

Republicans won -- now what? -1/5/2015, 9:13 AM

Social Darwinist religion, Chapter 1 -1/5/2015, 9:13 AM

Liberals' use of black people -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Ignorance abounds -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Superbug dilemma -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Thanks North Korea -12/31/2014, 1:26 PM

Sony gets the last laugh -12/31/2014, 1:26 PM

Free speech -12/31/2014, 1:16 PM

New Year's resolutions -- sort of -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

A flat-footed backflip for Wall Street -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

Dim the lights -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

Some near-sure bets for the new year -12/31/2014, 9:21 AM

Adios, Rick Perry -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

Budget strife means high-anxiety session -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

Time for caution -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

-12/29/2014, 10:01 AM

Court's raw deal -12/29/2014, 10:01 AM

Chris Christie's pork barrel politics -12/29/2014, 10:00 AM

A Festivus Miracle -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

Faith, not politics, keeps Christ in Christmas -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

EPA rule falls short -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

2014: The year in Kansas higher education -12/26/2014, 9:39 AM

Methane from cattle -12/26/2014, 9:39 AM

Black progression and retrogression -12/26/2014, 9:38 AM

Up-Lyft-ing Christmas tale -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Terrorism on soft targets -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Story of Christmas -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Fabricated column -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

The Christmas spirit dwells in us all -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

Celebrating life -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

A visit from St. Nicholas -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

A look ahead to the Legislature -12/23/2014, 9:34 AM

There is a Santa Claus -12/23/2014, 9:34 AM

Cuban sanctions need to be lifted -12/23/2014, 9:33 AM

2016 presidential campaign already boring -12/22/2014, 9:08 AM

A rainbow coalition of protests -12/22/2014, 9:07 AM

Budget needs dynamic leadership, not scoring -12/21/2014, 1:06 PM

Sure, you can say that -- but please don't -12/21/2014, 1:06 PM

Holiday travel -12/19/2014, 10:16 AM

ALEC's starring role in the 'Wrecking Crew' -12/19/2014, 10:17 AM

Should profiling be banned? -12/19/2014, 10:06 AM

No right to misbehave -12/18/2014, 10:09 AM

Pompeo deserves thanks -12/18/2014, 10:00 AM

Executive orders -12/18/2014, 10:00 AM

Attack on Pearl Harbor -12/18/2014, 10:00 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

What do Kansas Republicans believe?

Published on -5/18/2014, 2:54 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

I have been called many things for my commentary on Kansas politics during the past four years, but rarely have I been labelled a Republican.

I now publicly confess I am indeed a life-long, card-carrying Republican, born and raised in Republican territory, rural Harper County, in the small farming community of Bluff City.

My affiliation with the Republican Party led to my work with Republican officeholders in Kansas, as a cabinet officer for Govs. Bob Bennett and Mike Hayden, and as a legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Jim Pearson. I have admired the leadership of Republicans at the national level, such as Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan and Kansas' own Alf Landon and Bob Dole.

Given this background, I have watched the current crop of Republican lawmakers in Kansas radically depart from what have been core principles of Republicans. Their actions prompt me to ask: What exactly do Kansas Republicans believe?

For example, I thought Republicans believed in balancing the budget. Eisenhower showed the national budget could be balanced, an action rarely repeated since his time. Bennett and Hayden exercised fiscal discipline and carefully kept state spending in line with revenues while maintaining healthy balances.

In contrast, current state lawmakers proudly enacted reckless tax cuts, reducing revenues while allowing spending to grow. Before leaving town a few weeks ago, they approved a budget that by their own account spends $320 million more than is taken in during the budget cycle. Their action ignored news that revenues already are $93 million short of projections for the year April and likely will drop even further. Their financial mismanagement triggered a downgrade in the state's credit and might see fund balances plunge near zero within the year.

I also thought Republicans believed in fair and balanced taxation. Republican presidents, as well as Kansas governors, supported progressive income taxes throughout the 20th century. Landon campaigned for a state income tax in 1932 "not just as another tax" but as a way to reduce reliance on the property tax. As governor, he initiated a tax policy that moderated tax rates and balanced the tax burden among taxpayers and has been embraced by a long line of Republican governors and legislative leaders.

That all changed in 2011 when ALEC tax-cut guru Arthur Laffer came to Kansas. Republican lawmakers, led by the governor, now want to eliminate the income tax and shift the tax burden onto sales and property taxpayers. These lawmakers have adopted a tax policy that places more of the tax burden onto lower-income Kansans while dramatically reducing taxes for the wealthy.

Finally, I thought Republicans believed in Reagan's ideal of a "big tent" political party, one with room for a diversity of views, attractive to independent-minded voters, and with leaders who embrace Reagan's 11th Commandment: "Thou shall not speak ill of any Republican."

The Kansas Republican Party has abandoned the big-tent philosophy and largely relinquished its soul to a few ideological groups. The views of the State Chamber, Americans for Prosperity, Kansans for Life, and the State Rifle Association have more say in what state officeholders believe today than long-standing party principles. These groups control the party's agenda by targeting dissenters in primary elections and then disciplining those elected with single-issue scorecards and litmus tests.

And Gov. Sam Brownback has led Republicans in violating Reagan's 11th Commandment by joining with political allies and campaigning against legislators of his own party.

These Republican officeholders have turned their back on their party's history and on those who have shaped that history. This year's elections promise to be a watershed opportunity for Kansas voters to embrace or reject this radical "red-state" experiment with their future.

H. Edward Flentje is a professor

at Wichita State University.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News
AP Nation-World News

View this site in another language.

Kansas News