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Kansas Population: A Shrinking Violet?

By Diane Wahto
Opinion | April 3, 2014

A recent article in the Wichita Eagle cited a U.S. Census Bureau study that said, "More people have been leaving Kansas than moving here over the last four years, new Census figures show." From 20010 to 2013, Kansas had a net population loss of almost 10,200 people.

Some of that loss can be blamed on the recession that hurt the economy all over the country. However, as the economy has rebounded, one only has to look at the policies put into place by Gov. Sam Brownback and the merry band of extremist Republicans in the Kansas legislature. Those folks have put everything from the Kansas public education system to preserving Kansas wildlife in peril. Along the way, they have worked to pass laws that would take away local control on everything to gun restrictions to votes on gambling casinos.

In the meantime, many of us are likely to see our property taxes increased to fund public schools and other public services in order to keep billionaires like the Koch brothers from paying taxes.

A few years ago, During the Bush administration, I looked into moving to another country. For awhile, I thought one of my children and his family would be moving to Norway for a job. I've been to Norway and I think it would be a great place to live. However, my son's job didn't come through and I wasn't anxious for my husband and I to move there without other family to have around.

I also looked into moving to Canada, a country near enough to make a move possible. Plus, most Canadian speak English and I even know a little French. I had lived across the river from Canada in the '70s, so I'm familiar with the. Canada does have a point system for anyone who wants to emigrate there. My age worked against me, but I still had a part time job that I could do online, so that helped me. My husband, who is younger than I am, was just the perfect person to move there.

We thought about it, but we finally decided that the obstacles we faced, selling our house, getting clearance for our dogs (we had three or four at the time), finding affordable housing there, leaving family and friends, were just too much to overcome. So we stayed in Wichita, where we have friends. Wichita is also within driving distance of members of my family.

Even so, I understand why people have left Kansas. The economy is going to do nothing but go downhill under Brownback's trickle-down, no taxes on the rich policies. The public school system can do nothing but deteriorate unless the legislature puts money into it. Yes, it does take money to run schools.

The legislature killed funding for the arts and is defying the federal government on the Endangered Species Act. We still have the anti-gay marriage amendment as law. Abortion restrictions get worse and worse, as do voting restriction. The state is putting out million dollars in legal fees to defend all the bad laws the legislature has passed. There's no end to it, it seems.

Why wouldn't young people leave this state in favor of a more welcoming atmosphere? As for those us who lack the mobility to move, all we can hope for is that Paul Davis wins the governor's race and more sensible people will win their elections for the state legislature.


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This page contains just one story published on April 3, 2014. The one written previous to this is titled "Sanctimonius Censorship" and the story published right after this one is "Drought: We Can Learn from Job"

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