2010 Candidate for Attorney General
Sen. Derek Schmidt (R)GREAT BEND, Kan. - In 2002, Republican Governor Graves faced a $300 million budget shortfall. And a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans like Senator Derek Schmidt passed a $252 million dollar tax increase to prevent massive cuts to education, social services, highways and law enforcement.
Back then, Schmidt was unashamedly affiliated with the moderate Republican party. Kansas actually has three de facto parties: Democrats, moderate Republicans, and conservative Republicans. And Schmidt's entire career, up until this year, seemed to be a homage to his former boss and mentor, Nancy Kassebaum.
The tax increases Schmidt helped pass on May 16, 2002 included a sales tax increase, an inheritance tax increase, a cigarette tax, and an increased franchise tax for businesses, among other things.
And it helped to prevent budget cuts to schools, prisons, law enforcement, and social services. Nobody ever wants to raise taxes, but sometimes it's the right thing to do.
In 2010, eight years later, another Governor, Mark Parkinson, faced an even more drastic hole in the state budget, and built a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans to get a one-cent sales tax passed. But this time Senator Schmidt had changed his uniform. He was now a tea party guy, a member of the conservative Republican group.
Schmidt, a longtime supporter of highways for Southeast Kansas, even voted against funding the new 10 year comprehensive highway plan. He voted for the plan, but against the funding of it. In other words, if everyone voted the way Schmidt did, the highway plan would have died.
I have previously wrote about Senator Schmidt's out-of-character appearance at a Tenth Amendment Rally earlier this year. But I thought that was an anomaly. Maybe he just went to the wrong meeting. But his recent voting record reveals a total conversion from "Reasonable Republican" to Tea Party Republican.
Republican House member Kevin Yoder did the same thing in the last year. He's running for Congress, see. And Senator Schmidt is running for Attorney General. So
I can only assume this change in political philosophy is because both
Yoder and Schmidt think it will help their chances at the ballot box this year. And I can see the case for that in Yoder's race.
But how does this budget cutting philosophy help Schmidt in his run for Attorney General? The KBI field office in Great Bend, for instance, is short on funding, and is running months behind on DNA tests, blood tests, and drug tests, and "justice delayed is justice denied." Law enforcement would have suffered mightily if Schmidt got his way this year with more budget cuts.
Catching crooks is expensive, and this radical budget cutting attitude that Schmidt now has affects the KBI and all other state agencies. The "slash and burn" budget cutting mentality that Schmidt has adopted affects schools, roads, social services, and well, law enforcement.
Of all the duties that state government has, keeping the public safe ranks #1 with people. And it appears to me that Senator Schmidt put his own political ambitions ahead of public safety this year.