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Richard Crowson Commentary

Richard Crowson: It's Time To Pay Attention

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Maybe you’re one of the many Kansans who don’t pay an awful lot of attention to the Legislature. We have busy lives, and the idea of wading through news stories about political intrigue in Topeka can make the eyes glaze over and the prospect of rearranging one’s sock drawer sound suddenly appealing.

But while many of us were preoccupied with the necessary duties of running our households, driving the kids around, and gulping down coffee on the way to work each morning, a tireless effort to upend your life has been winning the day in our state’s capitol.

The Kansas House of Representatives, now packed with a majority of extremist conservatives, just passed a budget plan that will move our state from its current surplus of $600 million into a $2.7 billion deficit by 2017. The poorest Kansans will pay more taxes and the top 1% will get an average tax cut of more than $19,000. The devastation to our kids’ public schools will be on an order like none of us has seen in our lifetimes. For some of our disabled, currently on our years-long waiting lists for state services, it is nothing less than a death sentence. Our governor, the same governor who famously wears his religious piety on his sleeve, says he will… sign it.

Maybe it’s the far right using their old ploy on us again—the one where they want some radical bill passed, so they propose something even more cold-blooded. They know the opposition will then warm to the earlier radical bill in relief.

High-stakes political poker like this can be a turnoff to so many of us. It’s so easy to just turn to the comics page and forget it. Instead of pushing back. Instead of becoming active at election time. It’s our non-confrontational human nature that’s their best ally.

Are we really going to fold while our children are being used as poker chips? Maybe it’s time to start paying attention.