Monday, April 03, 2006

Kansas Republican icon uses the "T" word

With the rise of the neocons and the religious right, the newest swear word to enter the political lexicon is the word “tax.”

Imagine my surprise and delight when the Journal-World reported over the weekend that former Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker was freely throwing around the T word in an appearance in Lawrence. Kassebaum Baker is something of an icon to the GOP of Kansas. She repeatedly won her seat in the U.S. Senate with vote margins other politicians can only dream about.

Her pointed comments come the week after the Kansas Legislature went home for a three-week break after failing to pass increased funding for the state’s public schools. One of the sticking points was figuring out a way to pay for the funding increase. So far, the only thing lawmakers have apparently considered seriously is increasing gambling in the state. This is occurring at the same time that they’re cutting taxes for businesses. No one wants to talk about boosting taxes, or not cutting business taxes.

The Journal-World reported:

Even with a long record of opposing taxation and overspending during her years as a U.S. senator from Kansas, Nancy Kassebaum Baker knows education trumps everything — including fiscal conservatism.

“None of us like to raise taxes,” she said. “But we have to be sure we have the incentives to bring the very best.”

Kassebaum Baker spoke Saturday at a Kansas University Women’s Club scholarship fundraiser, and her focus — as was the case during her years in office — was on education.

Hesitant to talk about the gridlock over education funding in Kansas, she said only that sometimes, legislators needed compromise to make a system work, even if that meant going against core fiscal values.

“It’s a tough issue, a divisive issue,” she said. “I’d rather raise some taxes, because you can’t do it with smoke and mirrors.”

I don’t like taxes anymore than Kassebaum Baker or anyone else does. I like them least when I have to pay them, which happens far too often as far as I’m concerned. On the other hand, I am sickened by the thought of living in a society that refuses to meet its responsibility to children.

Listening to some legislators talk, you would think that everything else comes first, except our kids. I just don’t think that’s acceptable.

Also of interest in the school funding debate is the fact that the lawmakers who scream the loudest about helping all Kansas kids are those in the religious right. Many of them appear to loathe the public school system.

I used to think their attacks on public schools were merely designed to siphon money over to their own schools. Now, though, the good folks over at Talk 2 Action are making me wonder if the true purpose of the religious right is to turn the public schools into a system to indoctrinate our kids into their one, narrow form of religion. It sounds like a paranoid crazy idea, but the material posted at Talk 2 Action does make one wonder.

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