December 01st, 2023
L&T Opinions Page

A SECOND OPINION, The Wichita Eagle



On his way out the door of the governor’s office, Sam Brownback gave us something to remember him by — as if we wouldn’t remember him already.


After a $360 million prison project at Lansing Correctional Facility was approved by the State Finance Council last week, Brownback told reporters many state facilities were in disrepair. Get a look at his reasoning.


“We’ve got a series of state assets that have been underfunded for years,” he said. “I’ve been asking some of your guys to go around and look at some of them, whether it’s Lansing (or) Osawatomie State Hospital.”


He called Osawatomie’s facility “a pit.”


So the seven-year governor, who promoted tax cuts that led to massive holes in state budgets, complains that state facilities are underfunded.


It’s as if he thinks neglected improvements didn’t happen on his watch. Sure, many facilities were showing wear before Brownback took office in 2011, but his tax cuts led to revenue shortfalls.


No money, no improvements. Especially when Brownback’s own budgets included state hospital funding far below the requests made by the hospitals.


Brownback resigns as governor at 3 p.m. Wednesday, giving way to Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer so Brownback can become U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Colyer has rarely separated himself from Brownback in his role as right-hand man, but it would be stunning to imagine a new governor being as tone-deaf to the many issues facing Kansans and their representatives.


Colyer and lawmakers should take hard, detailed looks at improvements needed at state hospitals and other facilities. A long-term, fully-funded solution should be a bipartisan goal.


Brownback asked Kansans to pray and fast with him last week as he prepared to leave for Washington. We imagine there were few people fasting but many prayers of thanks, that Brownback’s tenure has come to an end after seven stormy, often rudderless years.



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