The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 20, 2001 · Page 11
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 11

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Friday, April 20, 2001
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THE SALINA JOURNAL FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2001 an 0 Tom Bell Editor &• Publisher Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: ^ P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "If a victim's family member thinks they're suddenly going to have euphoric feelings and everything's going to be wonderful immediately they're going to be disappointed." Brooks Douglass an Oklahoma state senator who witnessed the execution of a man who helped kill his parents, on witnesses to the impending execution of Timothy McVeigh. Setting a bad example THEtSSW Breaking promises THEAR6UMBIIT Don't try this at home A promise is a promise. That is, unless the promisemaker is the Kansas Legislature. Then, apparently, one can crunch commitments like crackers headed for a bowl of soup. That is the indication with the latest budget plan from the Kansas House of Representatives. It would cut $5.2 million from the higher education appropriation that lawmakers already approved for the 2002 fiscal year beginning July 1. Those funds were part of a 1999 legislative package that put community colleges and vocational- technical schools under the Kansas Board of Regents, which supervises six state universities. In that session the Legislature promised to raise faculty salaries and provide extra revenue for community colleges so they could reduce the portion of funding that comes from local property taxes. But here we are, a scant two years later, and House leaders are proposing a cut in those funds. Imagine how that bit of history will play out in classrooms - the places where we want our offspring to learn about the importance of honesty and trust. According to an Associated Press story, those backing the House plan say they are providing 75 percent of the amounts originally promised in 1999, which indicates they are still committed to higher education. That's an interesting defense of these cuts. Perhaps those lawmakers should try it on their bankers the next time they send in a house payment: "Here's 75 percent of what we promised you. Have a nice day." We imagine foreclosure proceedings would teach the House leadership about the importance of keeping promises. Apparently they haven't learned that lesson already. — Tom Bell I Editor & Publisher Let US know Letters to the Journal are welcome but, like everything else in the newspaper, are subject to being edited. All letters must Include a daytime telephone number for confirmation. T LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL Lawmakers pass the buck B ack in January, the 2001 Legislature convened its 90-day session with education dominating legislators' thinking. The governor had labeled his own education budget inadequate and asked lawmakers to do more in providing a quality and equal education for Kansas children. Before the Legislature left for its annual spring break last week, the House shamelessly passed the responsibility for doing more for Kansas schools on to someone else—local school districts and property taxpayers. By a 65-59 vote, the House passed a bill that would allow , local school districts to in[ crease their local option I budges (LOB) to 30 percent of ' its state aid allocation. Currently, districts may increase their budgets through local property taxes by a maximum of 25 percent of their local state aid. All the money for the LOB in excess of the 25 percent would have to come from each district's property taxpayers. There would be no state matching aid for those funds. The LOB bill, HB 2336, will simply widen the funding disparity between those school districts with high assessed property valuations and those with a lower property tax base. For instance, the Burlington : school district, which has the ; J^olf Creek Power Plant in its I tax base, could increase its I EoB another 5 percent by raising property taxes by only L5 mills. In contract, the Galena school district would have to levy a whopping 20 mills on local property taxpayers to realize the same level increase. Only a handful of high- spending school districts that can afford to keep raising local property taxes will benefit from this bill, while most school districts in the state will fall further behind. According to the State Department of Education, raising the cap on LOBs will cost the state $10 million in lost federal aid. If this amount is not made up with additional state aid, it will have an effect of reducing state funding for schools by $21 per student. The LOB bill is a direct reflection on the state's inability, since 1992, to adequately fund public schools. If we had met our responsibility to fund the school finance formula, even to the extent of keeping pace with inflation, crowded classrooms, teacher shortages and school closings would not be the prevalent problems facing our public schools today And, we wouldn't have the half- baked ideas, like House Bill 2336, that help some schools districts and hurt others. Supporters of the bill contend the current cap on local option budgets is forcing local school districts toward mediocrity. Ironically, these are the same legislators who have vehemently opposed any and all efforts to provide additional state funding for schools this year. Translation: It's OK to spend more on schools as long as someone else does it. Obviously, these legislators never believed in Harry Truman's maxim that "The buck stops here." The LOB bill is unfair and represents poor public policy Hopefully, the Legislature will get serious about meeting its responsibility for doing more for Kansas schools before the 90-day session comes to a close. — Rep. JIM GARNER House Democratic Leader Coffeyville C^va**^ \ BeeM so ?ouTe Fof^ SO I .CWSJ6 / \ CAN QBTIT us. • FROM WASHINGTON Cheney is the poster boy for tax cuts Bush has to keep reminding himself that, to some people, $1,000 is a lot of money W ASHINGTON — Every day, Vice President Dick Cheney finds a new way to prove his worth to President Bush and the wisdom of putting him on the ticket. Bush last week disclosed he and First Lady Laura Bush had taxable income of $744,682. That is a princely rate of pay for most people and might have drawn some clucks of disapproval toward a person on the public payroll. But one minute and 28 seconds later, the White House announced that Cheney's tax return for the year 2000 was being released "by private attorneys." It showed an adjusted gross income for himself and his wife, Lynne, of $36 million last year. Suddenly Bush seemed like middle management. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill earlier reported his Alcoa W-2 form will show 2000 income of $59.2 million. Bush's lousy three quarters of a million earnings for a single year doesn't even equal the estimated $1 million in annual dividends on his investments that O'Neill reported to Congress for last year This is an extraordinarily wealthy team • ESSAY JOHN HALL Media General News Service that heads the federal government. It is now leading — and for the most part winning — the fight in Congress for Bush's $1.6 trillion cut in federal income taxes, which will disproportionately benefit the wealthiest taxpayers because they now pay such huge amounts in taxes. The burden on the very rich is large. The Cheneys' tax bill for 2000 was a stupendous $14,295,000, according to the White House. But, so far at least. Bush has not been taking the Cheneys with him to his rallies to use as examples of why "Enough is enough folks. It's time to give our folks some tax relief in America." Instead, Bush — at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce appearance in Washington — produced the Winfield family over closed circuit television from Atlanta, Ga. Tommy Winfield is an operating engineer at Children's Hospital and their tax bill for 2000 was $1,380. Some say that's not a lot of money, Bush said, "but let me tell you what Tommy said loud and clear .... One thousand three hundred and eighty dollars means a lot to Tommy" Fourteen million dollars means a lot to Cheney too, but did his family get even a mention of its burden, which is more than 10,000 times as large as the Winfield family's? The George W. Bushes paid a total of $240,342 in federal taxes for 2000. Although that is pocket change in the Cheney and O'Neill households, the president could have mentioned that the tax bill will proportionately relieve the burden of his own family and many such wealthy people of thousands of dollars in taxes. But instead, the president produced the Brake family of Alexandria, Va., who pay $4,000 in federal income tax and would save $1,700 under the Bush plan. "That's real money for this hard-working couple," said Bush. "They and their two sons will find good use for that tax relief." Spoken like a man who finds such a proposition astonishing. So astonishing that he needs to explain over and over again that 1 or 2 grand is real dough to most people. Most people do understand this perfectly But to those paying $240,342 in taxes like the Bushes, it must truly be a revelation. In turn, Cheney may find it astonishing that anyone would think a mere $240,342 federal income tax bill would be very burdensome. You can almost hear the Cheneys behind the shades over at the Naval Observatory saying, "The poor Bushes. They think that's real money" A family that just shelled out $14.2 million to the Internal Revenue Service ought to be the poster children for this tax relief bill that treats everyone — rich and poor, richer and richest, president and vice president — proportionately alike. Cheney might make himself even more useful than he has become by going around the country assuring people that the Bushes — salt of tlie earth that they are — actually consider a couple of hundred thousand dollars a fortune. But he probably won't because of the pressure of his schedule. • Media General Washington correspondent John Hall can be reached by e-mail at jhall@media-general.com. The most important unknown thinker Octogenarian futurist will turn his sights on getting the Pentagon prepared W ASHINGTON — The most important unknown forward thinker in America today is Andrew Marshall. Pentagon brass shuddered when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld named this legendary shat- terer of shibboleths to be his adviser on "net assessment" and made him a key player in the review that will reshape our armed services. The freshest mind in the Puzzle Palace belongs to a man whose next birthday will be his 80th. He began going against the grain in 1949 at the RAND think tank when that acronym stood for "research and development"; since then, two generations of Pentag- onians have tolerated Marshall's iconoclasm on the off-chance that he may be right. "Andy is a thoughtful person," says Rumsfeld, "who's had a pattern of finding brilliant young people to assist him in assessing what the world will look like. His program is still up at 20,000 feet and we'll need to work out operational concepts, but we're getting there." Marshall's group is one of a dozen at Defense taking new looks at everything from "acquisition reform" (we've doubled the years it takes to produce new weapons sys- WILLIAM SAFIRE Vie New York Time.s tems, guaranteeing obsolescence on delivery) to "spectrum studies" (Jim Schlesinger finds we had one-tenth as many people in Kosovo as in the Persian Gulf War but they used 100 times the bandwidth). Because the study groups have not yet been connected, expect only a tweaking of defense budgets this year: "We can't spin this thing on a dime," says Rumsfeld, "everyone has to have his chop." Best guess is that coordinated changes in strategy and armament will be presented this winter and furiously fought out next year over the 2003 budget. Asked for an inkling of its direction, the defense secretary replies: "We're moving from a thi'eat-based strategy to a capability-based strategy" In unhyphenated English, that means scrapping the old idea of readiness to fight two conventional wars simultaneously, and substituting a new ability quickly to project a force powerful enough to win a conflict anywhere in the world. "The key words are 'dissuade' and 'reassure,' "says Rumsfeld, the former everything. "If our goal is to dissuade (not 'deter' — that's associated with nuclear) adversaries, we must have sufficient capability to reassure allies that they need not be blackmailed into accommodating pressures on their borders." It's no secret that the greatest need for "dissuasion" is shifting eastward — from the old Soviet threat to the new threat posed by an unstable, oil-hungry, adventur­ ist China. In the other-cheeked Bush response to China's reckless endangerment of the U.S. reconnaissance aircraft, Rumsfeld took a back seat. Even now, asked DOOIMESBURY about the costs to be imposed on such aggressive conduct, he adverts only to an economic impact: "When business executives and academics, in Japan and Taiwan and here, see a country seize 24 people and not allow a phone call, they have to ask — do I want to invest there?" In the short term, I think a much stronger answer is required, including resumption of surveillance flights by Defense, denial of MFN by Congress, and arms for Taiwan's self-defense from the White House. Long term, the response will be found in our new strategy: top priority is missile defense, based on land and sea and directed from space. Projecting power across the Pacific will require more stealthy long- range bombers like the B-2, fewer interceptors like the F-22 or the Joint Strike Fighter. We'll see fewer vulnerable large carriers, more small ones; lighter tanks and laser artillery; more high-altitude robot reconnaissance planes and low-level photo- drones. With fewer overseas bases, tilt-rotor cargo planes will be needed to airlift mobile forces to remote airfields. Today's layered military establishment has almost as many inspectors as our army has shooters. Tomorrow's military intelligence will have to anticipate cybert- errorists and germ warriors, and our psy- war teams must interpret Asian cultures and behavior patterns that Westerners find hard to fathom. Asked what the new strategic approach would be named, Rumsfeld told the octogenarian futurist Andy Marshall: "If it's good, we'll call it the Bush Doctrine. If it's not, it's Marshall Plan Two." By G.B. TRUDEAU OKAy.SOiUHY pipm ' susf^p-mRui^ cur- T/N0/UeseN/C /NOUfZ p PRINK/N6mmz^. , FUZZY samca, THAT!5 WHY.' m /^OCXXiSTRONS so UNTtl^ m'VBf^lMY smp/m^Pouimppfz/NK- APPfmCH.

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