Bargain bin image sends wrong message

opinions

March 16, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Kent Eckles, a lobbyist for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, told a Kansas Senate committee that retailers in other states were “salivating” over the prospect that Kansas will raise its sales tax.
No wonder big business gets a bad name.
Believe it or not, there are many business owners who are eager that their state be known for taking care of its needy and educating its children.
Being a bargain bin infers substandard goods.
Being of good value — that’s what sells a TV, a car, and a state.

STATE SEN. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, gets it.
In a bold move Monday afternoon, Donovan, chair of the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee, proposed a variation of Gov. Mark Parkinson’s sales tax proposal.
Donovan’s plan calls for a permanent increase in the sales tax from 5.3 to 6 percent; cigarettes up by 25 cents a pack; increased taxes on soft drinks and beer; but elimination of all taxes on food beginning in 2013. The package would raise about $350 million a year.
Fellow Republicans have been quick to dismiss Donovan’s efforts, continuing their pledge not to raise taxes even if it means sinking the state.
Kansas is nearing a $500 million shortfall for next fiscal year that begins in less than four months — a gap “too big to cut our way out of,” said Sen. Derek Schmidt, in referring to further reductions.
The Chamber’s Eckles suggested the state’s next target should be furloughing state employees, a measure “I haven’t seen discussed seriously in the Legislature this session,” he said.
Let’s see. We’ve had teachers and paraprofessional positions cut, school days eliminated, educational programs hacked, district court staffs reduced and social services positions and services slashed to the point that our state is neglecting its primary duties to its citizens.

KANSAS KIDS and the disadvantaged are being the hardest hit by the cutbacks. All-day kindergarten is the most recent program to go on the chopping block.
The state’s per-pupil funding directly supports only the half-day program with districts making up the difference. The saving grace — don’t laugh — for Iola and its neighboring districts is that they are so poor that they qualify for extra per-pupil state aid, which will permit them to save the all-day K programs.
Wealthier districts such as Wichita, however, likely will be forced to discontinue the programs, even though they have demonstrated a far superior learning environment for their youngest and most impressionable wards.

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