Editorial Commentary: Ken Ciboski

Political commentator Ken Ciboski stands just right of center and offers a common-sense view of politics today.

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Kansas News Service/File photo

The 2017 Kansas legislative session convenes on January 9. The work of the session is expected to be demanding and difficult as the legislature hopes to reach a legislative consensus on revenue and tax policy and on what to do about a $350 million deficit for the current fiscal year. In anticipation of the difficulty in reaching a consensus, the legislature has scheduled the coming session from 90 to 100 days.

President-elect Donald Trump has appointed Betsy DeVos, an advocate of school choice, to be Secretary of Education. The idea of school choice is that a student can leave a poorly performing school for one that can supposedly provide a better education, including private and parochial schools. Charter schools are an example of a choice. They are publicly-funded, and they have greater freedom than public schools in the kind of curricula they wish to have and in choosing their students.

We had a presidential election and, for the fifth time in our history, the winner did not win the popular vote. The most difficult questions at the 1787 Constitutional Convention were: what kind of executive will we have, how will we select or elect the executive, and what should be the term of office?

Gov. Sam Brownback is apparently on President-elect Donald Trump’s “short list” for secretary of agriculture. In any case, under Brownback, Kansas has about a $350 million budget gap to fill this fiscal year. Next year is expected to be even worse. In addition, the Kansas Supreme Court is expected to rule in coming months on whether or not the state has underfunded K-12 schools.

The 2016 presidential election campaign has been disappointing for many Americans.

Many Americans this election year have lamented the choices for president of each of the major parties and especially that of Donald Trump for the Republicans. One explanation for this is that for many years now, the two major political parties and their activists have had a lesser role in selecting the nominee for president of their respective party. A strong and vocal segment of Americans demanded that “the people” and not political party activists should choose their nominees for president.

Kansas revenue estimates were missed by nearly $45 million for September. Some incumbent Republican legislators are worried that they will be defeated in the coming November election because of the state’s fiscal problems. Democrats see an opportunity to increase their numbers in the legislature. That is why Republican legislative leaders want the governor to act quickly to address fiscal problems. The state’s tax collections have not met revenue projections for 10 of the past 12 months and for 31 of 44 months since the first personal income tax cuts took effect in January 2013.


When campaigning for president in 1976, Jimmy Carter said, “All I want  . . . is to have a nation with a government that is as good and honest and decent and compassionate and as filled with love as are the American people.” How good would that government be?    

Gov. Sam Brownback said in a newspaper column published last Friday that he wants policymakers and educators to work together for educational solutions that benefit students, their parents, and their teachers.

Does the Kansas tax cut experiment qualify as a model for national tax and revenue policy?  Two of Donald Trump’s closest advisers on tax policy are economist Arthur Laffer and Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore. They were the architects of Governor Sam Brownback’s massive tax cuts that took effect on January 1, 2013. They predicted that these cuts would bring an economic boom to Kansas.