WICHITA, Kan. - Below is a running tally of the damage done to this state in just eight short months thanks to the Brownback Administration and radical republicans in the Kansas Legislature.
1. Supported action to sign Kansas onto the Virginia/Florida lawsuit declaring "Obamacare" unconstitutional. Even though President Obama won a decisive victory in 2010 on the promise of affordable healthcare for all, the republicans refused to admit they lost the general election and act as if it was treason for the federal government to pass such a dastardly, socialist inspired idea. Bottom line is the state of Kansas has many citizens who need healthcare. Protesting a duly passed piece of legislation by the federal government is sour political grapes and sticking it to the poor as you sanctimoniously claim it will hurt Kansans.
2. Vetoed funding for the Kansas Arts Commission after citizens rallied across the state and lobbied their representatives to save the arts. The Kansas Legislature listened to the people, and approved funding, only to have Sam wipe out the funding with the stroke of his magic pen.
3. Brownback maintained Kansas would still get funding from the NEA(National Endowment for the Arts) even though he wiped out the Kansas Arts Commission. Brownback was wrong; the state received notice it would NOT get matching federal funds from the NEA since the Governor's pet group-Kansas Arts Foundation, was hardly in a position to be trusted with taxpayer money without any clear organization or ability to prove it would not soon collapse.
4. Brownback refused a 31.5 million federal grant that would have been used in Kansas to set up a healthcare exchange to shop for competitive insurance providers for Kansas consumers. What a dope.
5. Brownback appointed former Speaker of the Kansas House Melvin Neufeld (R) to the Kansas Human Rights Commission . Neufeld made disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants.
6. Brownback appointed Wichita Attorney Richard Macias to the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts which of course regulates licenses for doctors including doctors who perform abortions. Macias is personally opposed to abortion and his notorious clients included the extremist anti-abortion protestors from Operation Rescue in lawsuits during the "Summer of Mercy" in 1991 and 2001. No conflict of interest there I'm sure.
7. Brownback signed into law new regulations making it virtually impossible for healthcare facilities providing reproductive services for women to remain open under the new state guidelines. This was never about the safety of women as patients but a not so transparent move to stop women from having safe, legal access to abortions and reproductive healthcare in the state of Kansas. This was about the religious right and pro-life forces in Kansas once again imposing their religious beliefs upon women instead of respecting their constitutional right to privacy and reproductive decisions.
On July 1, 2011, a Federal judge temporarily blocked state officials from enforcing the new licensing requirements for abortion providers. In addition to this, the Center for Reproductive Rights has also joined in this lawsuit against the State of Kansas.
8. Signed into law a smorgasbord of anti-abortion legislation: A ban on abortions after 21 weeks in Kansas based upon the pseudo-science that the fetus feels pain, and signed into law a bill requiring minors seeking abortions to obtain the consent of both parents (instead of one) or a court ruling.
9. Defunded Planned Parenthood : Currently the state is being sued for withholding funding to Planned Parenthood and has been ordered to continue providing funds until the matter is settled but the Brownback Administration is stalling and not obeying the law.
10. Signed into law a plan to prohibit insurance companies from including abortion coverage (except in life-threatening emergencies) in their comprehensive healthcare plans. If women want coverage, they will have to obtain a special rider but insurance companies could not even include this option under the statewide insurance exchange as part of the federal patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2014. The ACLU of Kansas and Mid-Missouri have filed a lawsuit against the state of Kansas for its comprehensive ban of abortions coverage. Stay tune.
11. Brownback appointed Ray Roberts, former Warden of the El Dorado Correctional Facility as the new Secretary of Corrections. Inmates have complained to outside groups such as Atheist Alliance and Great Plains Chapter of AU about Roberts before. The newly appointed secretary was accused of promoting his evangelical faith within the Kansas prison system for years while denying the same privileges and recognition to atheists or secular humanists . Brownback just recently endorsed a new program-"Out4Life" for parolees who would be paired up with mentors. The problem with this mentoring system is all the mentors are Christian. Looks like that little old thing called church and state doesn't get in the Governor's way when it comes to promoting and elevating his faith in government programs and policies.
12. Brownback reorganized SRS by dumping long time and respected Kansans in the department for out of state appointees. Word on the street is that SRS managers are running scared, trying to figure out their new jobs. Still they have time to take up the faith-based banner to yet again promote the Christian worldview while denying much needed resources to not-for-profits and other agencies that could do the job better and without the preaching. The reorganization was announced over the Memorial Day Weekend when everyone was busy and the administration could hide out for a few days. The new Secretary of SRS (whose salary was also increased) made no effort to consult with interested parties regarding the dramatic changes to SRS. A dictatorship is just so much easier than having to consult with the rabble.
13. Cries of financial woes in Kansas do not seem to be the case for the salaries of Brownbacks new appointees to SRS. The Kansas Legislature's nonpartisan based research staff reported that salaries of the top 40 manager increased by almost 10% while at the same time the department announced the closing of 9 local SRS offices to save $400,000. This move put 87 employees out of a job in Lawrence alone. Outraged by this very partisan move (Douglas Co. supported State Senator Tom Holland (D) instead of Brownback in the 2010 gubernatorial race)Douglas County is picking up some of the tab to keep a local office open to meet the needs of their citizens. Ultimately, it means the local taxpayers are still footing the bill for what the state should be ultimately responsible for in the first place or the Dept. should close up shop.
So, recap: to save money in the budget, the managers all had their salaries raised by cutting offices for the needy in the state. Nice job.
14. Within the Dept. of SRS, Anna Pilato was appointed as Secretary for Strategic Development and Faith Based and Community Initiatives. She served 5 years in the Bush Administration including serving as Director of the Center for Faith Based and Community Initiatives at HHS. Ms. Pilato's salary is a whopping $97,500 for taking tax payer money and giving it to religious charities. You get paid for this unconstitutional work?
15.The Kansas Constitution under the Bill of Rights states under No. 7." nor any preference be given by law to any religious establishment or mode of worship." I'd say faith-based programs are exactly a preference by the law to establish religion among the people.
And, just for the record, Kansas public school teachers would love to make a $97,500 salary, but the Brownback Administration also sliced and diced public school funding in their proud claim of balancing the state budget by balancing it on the backs of children, abused and raped women ,the poor, and the arts.
Meanwhile, Brownback has championed Christian/Catholic marriages behind closed doors with other state officials reportedly costing the state $13,000 in pondering how to bring back the days when people were expected to stay together in a loveless, unhappy marriage to make God happy.
For a more complete review of how the Brownback Administration plans to change the state's rules on marriage and divorce and encourage Kansans to marry or else:
See Peg Britton excellent webpage, http://www.kansasprairie.net/kansasprairieblog/?cat=50
If all of the above does not give you pause as a citizen of Kansas, keep in mind, I have only presented a short list of what the Brownback Administration has done. I have not presented a real breakdown of what all of these new laws and changes are costing in real dollars to the state's economy, image around the nation, and to the taxpayers of Kansas who are getting soaked, bilked and other wised rolled by this wrecking crew of individuals who believe the Puritans were on the right track if not for some bad publicity against witches.
If you care to rise up and rally in Topeka on Sept 16th between 10:00 - 11:00 AM against this new society being created by Brownback and Co., Kansans United in Voice and Spirit would be thrilled to welcome all Kansans to stand up against the Brownback Administration.
For more information about the rally go to: facebook.com/pages/Kansans-United-in-Voice-Spirit.