Nothing Good is Ever Said in These Last Three Weeks

Oct 18, 2018 by

We have entered the worst period of every election cycle – the last three weeks before election day. This is the time that is designed for creating doubts, generating confusion, and taking the voter’s mind off what is really at stake.

For us, in Kansas, there is much at stake in this election. Fundamentally, this is about whether we continue to make progress on restoring the state budget and funding our schools or we turn back and embrace the failed economic policies of Sam Brownback once again.

You might think we are talking about the race for Governor – and we are – but it is so much more. In 2016 voters sent a wave of new Democratic and Moderate Republican legislators to the House and, working together, that coalition did marvelous work. They reversed the failed Brownback tax plan even delivering enough votes to override his veto. They voted to expand Medicaid and again the House delivered enough votes to override Brownback’s veto (sadly the Senate fell short). They delivered a new school finance formula modeled on the one Brownback’s allies repealed and while that formula is still considered somewhat inadequate in funding, it has been found to be structurally constitutional. And the House twice voted to restore due process protections for teachers that Brownback’s allies had stripped in 2014.

All of these important votes were accomplished not by the Democrats or the Moderate Republicans but by the Democrats and Moderate Republicans working as a coalition – as a team – to deliver results for the people of Kansas.

The political goal of KNEA and our Political Action Committee (KPAC) has been to preserve and increase the membership of that coalition. To that end, we promised legislators of both parties that if they stood strong for the issues we believe in, we would stand strong with them at election time.

Unfortunately, a number of our Moderate Republican friends lost their bid for re-election, falling in the primary to a conservative candidate allied with Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, and the remnants of the Brownback majority. This makes it critical now that we support and re-elect every member of the House Democratic Caucus and every remaining member of the Moderate Republican Caucus. And at the same time, we must help Democrats defeat some of the conservatives in those races where a moderate Republican does not exist. 

Simply put, we need more coalition seats. Trading coalition seats does not build our capacity to pass good legislation and defeat bad legislation. Trading seats is a zero-sum game.

We acknowledge that a Democrat who defeats a Moderate Republican is very likely to be a solid vote for good policy and school funding. But it does not strengthen the coalition’s ability to hold off the conservative agenda. The only way we build legislative strength is to defeat more Brownback/Kobach ideologues.

We also acknowledge that there is another alternative – electing a Democratic House majority; electing 63 Democrats. That would mean holding the 40 Democratic seats they now have and defeating another 23 Republicans. We have yet to meet anyone who believes that is possible in one election cycle.

So when KPAC considers recommending candidates, we do it with one thing in mind – how can we elect a pro-public education majority in the legislature. Not “how can we elect a Democratic majority.” Not “how can we elect a Moderate Republican majority.”How can we elect a pro-public education majority of legislators regardless of party? 

So in these last three weeks, voters are being bombarded by mail that has little to do with policy and everything to do with sowing doubt and confusion. It is mail filled with references to obscure votes alleged to prove a candidate is evil. It is mail about their personal lives or something once “liked” on Facebook. It is mail with a photo of the time they were in the same room as Nancy Pelosi or Kevin Yoder.

Here is what we suggest. Don’t read the mail. Throw it in the recycle bin, shred it, line your birdcage with it. Just don’t read it. Instead turn to organizations you trust. We hope that includes KNEA. But maybe it’s the Mainstream Coalition or Moms Demand Action. Maybe it’s the Fraternal Order of Police or the Kansas Organization of State Employees. But go to them and look at their candidate recommendations/endorsements. And then cast your vote for those candidates. You’ll be doing the right thing.

read more

Pro Worker Bills Unveiled (Due Process Included)

Jan 26, 2017 by

House and Senate Democrats today hosted a press conference and stated clearly their intent to help working and middle-class Kansans by unveiling several bills designed to do just that.  In his opening remarks, House Minority Leader, Jim Ward acknowledged that these bills incur no additional cost to the state.  This is very important in light of the push to pass a sensible, fair and comprehensive tax plan.  CLICK HERE for more on the RISE UP KANSAS tax proposal.

One bill, to be co-sponsored by Representatives Crum and Stogsdill, seeks the restoration of due process rights for K-12 teachers.  Due process protection affords teachers the right to advocate for their students without the fear of unfair reprisal while helping to attract great teachers to Kansas.  The press conference was attended by dozens of working Kansans and labor organization members and representatives in a showing of support and solidarity.  Like all bills, these have many steps to go through on their way to becoming law, but this is certainly an encouraging step.

CLICK HERE to read press coverage of today’s announcement.

CLICK HERE to view the press conference as it happened live.

We will have more coverage of late committee hearings in tomorrow’s edition of Under the Dome.

read more

One Week from Tomorrow!

Feb 26, 2016 by

One week from tomorrow, Kansans will have the opportunity to weigh in on who they want to see as the next president of the United States.

The Kansas presidential caucuses will be held March 5, 2016 and with both parties still wide open, this is going to be a great opportunity for Kansans to have a voice.

The candidates are in; let the choosing begin!

Kansas NEA encourages everyone to attend the caucuses. We know that the caucuses are often poorly attended but when so much is on the line and when both parties are not yet settled on a choice, how can anyone who believes in the power of our democracy not want to be there?

Both parties make their own rules for how the caucuses work so we hope you will check the resources below to learn more. While our links go straight to the caucus locations, there is more information available on the Republican and Democratic Party websites.

Kansas Democratic presidential caucus

March 5, 2016 beginning at 3:00 pm.

You must be a registered Democrat and of legal voting age (18) by November 8, 2016 to participate in a caucus. All attendees must check in between 1:00-3:00 p.m. You may register to vote or change your party affiliation at the door.

Democrats caucus by state Senate districts. To find where to caucus, visit

http://www.kansasdems.org/caucus-2016/where-to-caucus/

Kansas GOP presidential caucus

March 5, 2016 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

You must be a registered Republican to participate in the caucus.

Republicans caucus by county although a number of counties have multiple locations. To find where to caucus, visit

http://www.ksgop.org/#!caucus-locations/vopsn

read more