Moral Mondays: A time to redirect our compass

opinions

March 21, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Kansas had its own Moral Monday, but it was on Tuesday.
In Georgia, protestors flooded the state capitol Monday against the Legislature’s refusal to expand Medicaid guidelines as provided in the Affordable Care Act. It was the ninth  consecutive Monday activists have convened at the capitol in a movement they call Moral Monday, an offshoot of Truthful Tuesdays begun last year in South Carolina.

Topeka experienced a much milder version of protests Tuesday when about 200, including several Iolans, went to the state capitol in hopes of conveying to legislators the advantages of expanding Medicaid offerings.
If supporting Medicaid expansion somehow aligns them with President Obama, no Kansas Republican will come within a mile of the measure.
As with our Southern neighbors, Kansas now belongs to the right wing. As never before, an ultra-conservative governor and Legislature are suppressing citizens’ rights in Kansas.
To wit:
• Kansas children are being deprived of an adequate education through under-financed schools. Funding is so low the Kansas Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional;
• Access to affordable health care is being denied through cumbersome new regulations and fees imposed on the health care navigators as well as the state’s own refusal to promote the federal program;
• The freedom to vote is being restricted; 11,000 voter registrations hang in limbo because  of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s campaign against immigrants;
• Legislators are invading the classroom. A bill before the Kansas Senate controls how students are taught, including sex education material;
• And tougher rules for public assistance have been enacted, oppressing the poor with cuts to food stamps, help with childcare expenses and temporary assistance.

LET’S TAKE the last issue first.
Because of new tax laws, the wealthiest are enjoying a 2 percent cut in their income taxes. For the average millionaire, that means a reduction of about $21,087 a year.
Meanwhile, our poorest have witnessed an increase of 1.3 percent in taxes because of the elimination of certain credits, including those for purchases of food, for expenditures on rent and for what they paid in childcare.
Today, Kansas is in company with Mississippi and Alabama as the only states that tax food sales and do not provide any relief for such a tax for low-income residents.
Up until 2012, families with incomes of less than $17,700 could claim $91 per family member to offset the sales tax they paid on food. For a single parent family with two children, that could mean the difference of $246, or 2 percent of their annual income.
If Kansas were to expand Medicaid, about 80,000 would receive health care coverage, many for the first time. Realize as federal taxpayers we are paying for the expansion enjoyed in other states. As of Friday afternoon, Kansas has said goodbye to $85 million in federal aid since Jan. 1, had we participated in the expansion. To see the current tally, go to http://howmuchhasksleftonthetable.com.
As for voting rights, Kobach is intent on keeping Kansas as a frontrunner in discrimination. Kobach “won” a ruling for Kansas Wednesday when a federal judge said we could enforce a two-tiered voting system requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote. Kobach maintains the extra paper trail is necessary to combat illegal citizens from voting. Since Kobach began this campaign, seven cases of voter fraud have been determined in Kansas over the last 13 years. Seven. “An epidemic,” he proclaims.

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