In Kansas, supply-side policies are working

From Investor’s Business Daily, a look at recent events in Kansas economic and political history.

Laffer And Moore: Sweet Supply-Side Revenge For Tax Cutters In Kansas

Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore

We join the story of Kansas in January 2011, when former U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback takes office as Kansas’ 46th governor along with a Republican-controlled House (92 Republicans and 33 Democrats) and Senate (32 and 8) to have his back.

Welcome to Kansas the Sunflower State 1954The Kansas economy, while far from being a catastrophe, had been underperforming for a long time. The unemployment rate was 6.8%. Using IRS data of tax filers, in every single year from the 1992 tax year through 2012, Kansas has experienced a net loss of adjusted gross income (AGI) to the rest of the nation.

If, over the past 21 years before Brownback’s tax cuts took effect, the net flow of AGI had been zero instead of what it actually was, the state of Kansas would now have almost $4 billion of additional AGI per year and all the derivative benefits that come with higher incomes.

And perhaps worst of all, Kansas’ pension system was ranked second worst in the nation in terms of solvency, with a funding ratio in the 50% range.

Continue reading at Investor’s Business Daily, Laffer And Moore: Sweet Supply-Side Revenge For Tax Cutters In Kansas.

School choice improves public schools

From Cato Institute, how school choice programs improve the existing public schools. This is important, as in most states only a very small fraction of students participate in choice programs.

How School Choice Improves Public Schools

Jason Bedrick, Cato Institute

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that district school bureaucrats are “proceeding with an ambitious plan to offer a wider range of education options.”

Superintendent Robert Avossa is leaving the 96,000-student district for the larger Palm Beach County system in Florida. Ken Zeff, who takes over as interim superintendent next week, shares Avossa’s view that parents want and deserve choices.

An array of choices may lessen the exodus of by parents who want a non-traditional setting for their children. More than 15 percent of Fulton families opted for private schools this school year.

While Fulton has increased its number of district-approved charter schools, the AJC reports more than 1,600 families are on charter school wait lists for next fall, largely in south Fulton where school performance is not as high as north Fulton.

(North Fulton is one of the state’s most affluent areas and boasts some of the highest achieving high schools in Georgia. Its schools are a major draw for new families moving to the metro region.)

Not every student learns in the same way so Fulton is expanding school design options.

“This is not an attempt to dismantle traditional public schools,” said Zeff in an AJC news story by Fulton Schools reporter Rose French. “Traditional-model schools are performing great for a lot of kids. But some parents want and some students would do better in a different environment.”

In other words, when parents chose schools other than their child’s assigned district school–perhaps using Georgia’s tax-credit scholarships–the government school system responded by being more responsive to parental demands.

This is not an isolated phenomenon. Out of 23 empirical studies of the impact of school choice policies on district school performance, 22 found a statistically significant positive impact. Recently, the prestigious peer-reviewed American Economic Journal published the results of a study by David Figlio of Northwestern University and Cassandra Hart of the University of California-Davis on the impact of a school choice program in Florida on district schools. The study found that the academic performance of students at public schools improved as a result of increased competition:

We find greater score improvements in the wake of the program introduction for students attending schools that faced more competitive private school markets prior to the policy announcement, especially those that faced the greatest financial incentives to retain students. These effects suggest modest benefits for public school students from increased competition.

As I’ve noted previously, district schools often operate as monopolies, particularly those serving low-income populations with no other financially viable options. And sadly, a monopolist has little incentive to respond to the needs of its captive audience. Thankfully, the evidence suggests that when those families are empowered to “vote with their feet,” the district schools become more responsive to their needs.

Human Rights and Kansas Courts

“The proper role of the Court is to say what the law is, not what the law should be. We need a legal system that respects the human rights of every Kansan — born and unborn.” From the office of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

Fellow Kansans,

Last Friday — the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade — Kansas was again at the forefront of the battle for life.

Respecting the dignity, beauty, and value of every life, Governor Brownback has enacted pro-life legislation each year he’s been in office. For this work, and specifically his signing of the first-in-the-nation dismemberment abortion ban, last Friday Governor Brownback received the National Pro-Life Recognition Award.

Yet, on the very same day, the Kansas Court of Appeals chose to reject this life saving measure. In a 7 — 7 decision, the court opted to block the dismemberment abortion ban, and instead found a right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution. This decision isn’t just legally dubious, it is unconscionable.

Governor Brownback issued this statement about today’s court action: “I am deeply disappointed in the court’s decision to allow dismemberment abortions of a living child to continue in the State of Kansas. The court’s failure to protect the basic human rights and dignity of the unborn is counter to Kansans’ sense of justice. The closeness of today’s decision highlights the importance of every single judge in upholding the right to life. Seven judges have chosen to create law based upon their own preferences rather than apply the law justly and fairly. I support the Attorney General in his call on the Kansas Supreme Court for a swift decision protecting the unborn.”

We cannot have a legal system that fabricates new laws on a personal whim. The proper role of the Court is to say what the law is, not what the law should be. We need a legal system that respects the human rights of every Kansan — born and unborn.

Melika Willoughby
Deputy Communications Director
Office of Governor Sam Brownback

Trump and the art of saying ‘no deal’

From Americans for Limited Government.

Trump and the art of saying ‘no deal’

By Robert RomanoTrumpTheArtOfTheDeal

“[Trump could] probably work with Congress, because he’s, you know, he’s got the right personality and he’s kind of a deal-maker.”

That was former Senate Majority Leader and failed 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole all but endorsing Donald Trump in the Republican primary over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, questioning Cruz’ ability to work with Congress. “Nobody likes him,” Dole said of Cruz.

Poor ol’ Bob Dole. Not only does he think a candidate who intends to deport 11 million illegal aliens, build a wall on the southern border and temporarily suspend Muslim immigration will want to deal with the likes of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan.

But he also naively believes there is anybody left in the country that even likes Congress or the vapid political establishment it truly represents.

Let’s be clear. Nobody likes Congress. Well, almost nobody. Just 16 percent of Americans approve of Congress’ handling of its job, according to Gallup. 80 percent disapprove.

80 percent.

So perhaps Dole, who spent 35 years in Congress, including 27 years in the Senate, imagines in the magical fairy land that is inside the Beltway that his statement somehow hurts Cruz politically, and helps Trump. It does neither.

In fact, in the current political climate — where again, 80 percent of people disapprove of Congress — getting a former Senate Majority Leader’s nod is akin to the kiss of death. For, it wraps Trump in the very establishment cloth he began his campaign by setting ablaze.

Moreover, it tarnishes Trump’s brand as an outsider. He must harbor no illusions. Trump’s battle against illegal immigration and bad trade deals is not Congress’ agenda. Nor is it the establishment’s agenda. They don’t like those things.

If he happens to prevail in the nomination and general election in November, in order to get a deal from Congress, Trump — or any other prospective president for that matter whether it be Cruz, Clinton, or Sanders—  has to be willing to say, “No deal.” And loudly.

Perhaps Bob Dole thinks Congress will be able to somehow charm Trump into making the deals it wants. But we suspect Trump probably knows better.

After all, in Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal,” he states, “The best thing you can do is deal from strength, and leverage is the biggest strength you can have. Leverage is having something the other guy wants. Or better yet, needs. Or best of all, simply can’t do without.”

Trump adds, “Leverage: don’t make deals without it.”

And when it comes to leveraging Congress, a president has no bigger carrot than his legislation signing pen, and no bigger stick than the veto pen.

Specifically, when, not if, Congress delivers an immigration bill to Trump’s desk that rejects his fundamental stance against illegal immigration, he has to be willing to veto it, and then have that veto sustained by at least one-third of one chamber of Congress. Otherwise, he will lose.

When, not if, Congress delivers appropriations bills and continuing resolutions to his desk full of corporatist favors, hundreds of billions of dollars of new debt and millions of dollars of handouts to radical environmental organizations and other undeserving, unaccountable foundations, he has to be willing to veto it, and sustain that veto with at least one-third of one chamber of Congress.

You get the point. A president can successfully deal with a hostile Congress — but only if he or she confronts Congress. And prevails.

How else does anyone think, for instance, Ronald Reagan got his tax cuts and defense appropriations measures through Congress? He vetoed legislation and prevailed to varying degrees through 8 government shutdowns.

Any candidate who believes Congress is or ever will be a friend needs to just quit the race now. Our system of government was built with the separation of powers for a reason. It was to limit the powers of the president in particular. But that does not mean a president is powerless in the face of an unreceptive legislative branch.

The current occupant of the White House, President Barack Obama, gets around it by issuing executive orders and expansive regulations. But his strategy oversteps and overreaches, undermining confidence and trust in government by damaging constitutional limited government, the separation of powers and the rule of law.

The next president, if he or she wishes to master Washington, D.C. will succeed by doing exactly what Trump called for in “The Art of the Deal,” and that is by denying Congress the one thing it “simply can’t do without” — and that is its precious spending bills.

And to deny the two-thirds majorities Congress needs in both houses to override vetoes. Yes, a president will need some allies in Congress — approximately one-third. But before any deals can be made, the credible threat of saying “no deal” is a necessary prerequisite.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

Read more at NetRightDaily.com: http://netrightdaily.com/2016/01/trump-and-the-art-of-saying-no-deal/

Kansas Democratic Vision for 2016

From the Kansas Democratic Party.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 14, 2016

Education, transparency, public safety and innovation set as goals for 2016

“It’s time to move past Brownback’s failed agenda and chart a new course.”

House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs and Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, along with members of their caucuses, outlined their vision for 2016 today. They called on the legislature to change direction, focusing on a new agenda for the people of Kansas.

“The governor and his rubber stamp legislature promised Kansans their vision would bring economic growth and prosperity,” said House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs. “The bottom line is: Governor Brownback’s agenda has failed, and it’s time to move on.”

“Despite the problems our Governor created — we believe our best days are ahead,” said Burroughs. “These are the building blocks for the future that any Kansan — Democrat or Republican — holds dear.”

Democratic legislators outlined their priorities for 2016:

  • An economy that prioritizes attracting jobs in energy, manufacturing, research, and biosciences;
  • An open, transparent government that works for the people;
  • Efficient government that prioritizes public safety;
  • Prioritizing public schools and retaining Kansas teachers.

“These priorities — these core beliefs all Kansans share — are what we will champion this year,” said Hensley. “Kansans can know with certainty that Democrats are ready to work together with all parties to lead our state towards a brighter future.”

Hensley pointed out that many of the Republicans in the legislature voted 90% of the time in support of Gov. Brownback’s political agenda, putting politics before people. That’s why in addition to outlining their vision for 2016, Democrats called on Kansans to demand a new direction from Topeka.

“Kansans must be vigilant,” said Hensley. “Demand we move in a new direction. If the Governor and his allies continue to ignore the challenges we face — then the people of Kansas have a chance to change direction this November.”

Joint Statement of KASB, USA, KSSA, KNEA on start of 2016 legislative session

The following is a statement released on behalf of Kansas Association of School Boards, United School Administrators of Kansas, Kansas School Superintendents’ Association, and Kansas National Education Association.

Joint Statement of KASB, USA, KSSA, KNEA on start of 2016 legislative session

Jan 13, 2016

Our Kansas public schools are great. Every day teachers, administrators, support professionals and school leaders work magic in our classrooms and districts statewide.

The results are there. Working with parents and communities, Kansas schools rank in the top ten nationally on every measure on reading and math tests, high school completion and college preparation.

The Kansas education community is proud of these results and Kansas parents feel confident sending their children to our public schools every day.

But our heartfelt desire is to move public schools from the top ten to the top. We agree with the State Board of Education’s new vision: “Kansas leads the world in the success of every child.”

We aren’t content to rest on our laurels and coast. We long to be the best.

That is why our teachers and administrators seek out and participate in staff development opportunities. That’s why so many of our educators have graduate degrees in their subject area or in curriculum. That’s why school board members are committed to implementing that vision for every child to succeed in school and in life. The need to improve the Kansas public school system is in our DNA and it is in our State Constitution.

Teachers and administrators spend their days helping children learn and after hours meet to discuss what each individual student needs.

School professionals plan curriculum, develop lesson plans, grade papers and analyze student work.

But we don’t stop there. School board members, teachers and support personnel are often seen after school hours, working side-by-side at school events to recognize and encourage our young people.

This is how the Kansas school system operates. We are good at. It is not just a job; it is truly a calling.

And we know Kansas public education must continue to improve. All of our organizations have spoken to our members, parents, business leaders, and our communities and believe that we must help students master not only basic academic skills but to be prepared for much higher demands for college and other postsecondary programs, in the workplace and as citizens and community members. One thing is clear: we cannot do it alone.

It concerns us that the great things happening in our public schools so often go unrecognized by policymakers. While the focus is often on how we can spend less on our children, we answer by redoubling our efforts.

Teachers spend their own money to buy supplies, while telling their own families to tighten their budgets thanks to pay freezes or the rising cost of our health insurance plans. School districts and board members work hard to preserve programs aimed at student success while reducing administrative costs to the absolute bare minimum.

Now, we turn our attention this week to the Statehouse in Topeka where the Legislature is gathering to consider how to provide for the people of Kansas.

There are challenges to overcome. Our state budget is in the red and state services have been cut to the bone. Kansas needs good highways, safe communities, opportunities and help for our seniors and those with disabilities. And Kansas continues to need great public schools and colleges to develop a work force that will bring good jobs and a strong economy.

Kansas has a long history of overcoming challenges and rising to new heights. It’s in our motto ad astra per aspera — to the stars through difficulties. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.

We ask legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback to choose partnership, not partisanship; compromise, not conflict; and we ask for them to focus on the long-term effects of their decisions. If they can do this, we pledge to support them in this effort. Let us all return to the Statehouse with the commitment to work together through our current difficulties and set us once again on a path to the stars. That is the Kansas way.

Pompeo Responds to State of the Union Address

“Unfortunately, too much of what I heard from President Obama are partisan proposals that have no chance of becoming law,” said U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo on President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

January 13, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. –- Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) issued the following response to the president’s State of the Union address:

“Tonight’s speech was disappointing. Unfortunately, too much of what I heard from President Obama are partisan proposals that have no chance of becoming law. He has doubled down on more of the same Washington-centered policies that have failed Kansans for the past seven years.

“Americans deserve new, bold ideas that help grow the economy, fight against radical Islamic extremists, and stop Iran – the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism — from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Unfortunately, the president’s failed policies, including his insistence on closing Guantanamo Bay and moving terrorists to America, and potentially Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, are both wrong and dangerous.

“Kansans know that words don’t solve the problems facing our nation and our world. It is only through true leadership of action and deed that will we rebuild the American economy and our standing on the world stage.”

Pompeo attended tonight’s address with guest Cheryl Bennett. Bennett is the mother of Tyrone Woods, one of the two former Navy SEALs killed during the terror attacks on Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.

Pompeo mentioned, “I was honored to have Cheryl join me tonight. Her son, Ty Woods, made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation. His bravery and that of his teammates saved American lives. I remain committed to discovering the truth behind what happened that night. Cheryl and all of the family members of those who lost loved ones in Benghazi deserve at least that.”

View video below, or click here to view at YouTube.

Kansas State of the State Address, the follow-up

From the office of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, follow-up to the State of the State Address the governor delivered on January 12, 2016.

Fellow Kansans,

Tonight, Governor Brownback delivered the 134th State of the State address. We celebrated freedom, self-government, and the rule of law. The Governor, just as the Kansas Constitution requires, told the legislature about the strength of our state, and cast a substantive vision for the future.

Precisely five years ago today the Governor gave his first State of the State. We’ve accomplished so much since then: More than 388,000 low income Kansans now pay zero income taxes, KPERS is out of the bankruptcy zone, more than half the people once on welfare are now off it and most importantly getting out of poverty altogether, and technical education participation has tripled. We’ve consolidated government agencies, eliminated wasteful programs, and reduced onerous regulations. Wages are up, unemployment is down, and new businesses continue to open in Kansas.

Looking forward, Governor Brownback outlined measurable successes and called for continued reform and progress:

  • Education: Kansas invests more than $4 billion in education each year, yet not nearly enough goes toward instruction. Governor Brownback called on the legislature to design a new funding system that puts more money in instruction and provides bonuses for exceptional teachers.
  • Kansas National Guard: Following the attack on the National Guard recruiting facility in Tennessee last summer, Governor Brownback ordered our Adjutant General to complete a security assessment of all Kansas National Guard facilities. The Governor’s new budget funds the arming and training of additional personnel.
  • Refugees: Governor Brownback continues to question the federal government’s ability to properly screen people claiming to be refugees. Where President Obama refuses to act, Governor Brownback will act—he has expanded his executive order blocking state agencies from resettling any refugees that present a safety and security risk.
  • GITMO: President Obama has resurrected his plan to close GITMO, instead transferring terrorists to American soil. He is prioritizing his agenda and the feelings of radical Islamic terrorists over the safety of Americans. Governor Brownback stands ready to thwart every action the President takes to transfer terrorists to Kansas.
  • Judicial Selection: Kansas is the only state in the nation where the selection of Supreme Court justices is controlled by a handful of unelected, unaccountable lawyers. The Governor asked the power be put back in the hands of the people, through a Constitutional amendment for a more democratic selection process.
  • Property Tax Lid: The ability to raise taxes at the local level should not be made without consent and input from local citizens. Governor Brownback announced his support for strengthening the property tax lid by closing existing loopholes.
  • Welfare Reforms: Kansas has led the way on common-sense welfare reforms by requiring healthy adults without children to work or receive work training. Results now show that the amount of time able-bodied adults spend on food stamps has been cut in half, and those leaving welfare are better off. The number of enrollees who have risen out of poverty tripled.
  • Planned Parenthood: Governor Brownback has enacted pro-life legislation every year he’s been in office. Governor Brownback believes Planned Parenthood’s trafficking of baby body parts is antithetical to our belief in human dignity. He directed that not a single dollar of taxpayer money go to Planned Parenthood through our Medicaid program and called for legislation to make it permanent law.

Much has been achieved. But much has yet to be done. Governor Brownback is ready for another session working to make Kansas the best state in America to raise a family and grow a businesses.

Melika Willoughby
Deputy Communications Director
Office of Governor Sam Brownback

Kansas State of the State Address, 2016

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s State of the State Address, January 12, 2016. This text is the address as prepared, from the governor’s office.

Mr. Speaker, Madam President, Legislators, Cabinet Members, Justices, honored guests … Kansans all.

Welcome.

Welcome back to our annual ritual.

First, please join me in recognizing the First Lady of Kansas, my wife Mary.

And welcome also to Ruth Colyer, wife of Lt. Governor, Jeff Colyer.

There is someone who has been a part of this ritual for a long time — and that is Associated Press reporter John Hanna, who is covering his 30th consecutive State of the State address.

That’s a great milestone, John, exceeded only by Martin Hawver who is covering his 40th address.

Here, we celebrate freedom.

Here, we practice self-government.

Here, the people rule.

And here we crown no royalty … except in baseball.

Well, soccer too, and football and basketball hopefully.

And as our region’s latest champions showed us, with the right fundamentals and teamwork, we can accomplish anything in time.

It was precisely five years ago tonight when I first addressed this body on the State of our State.

And just look at what has happened in those five years:

More than 388,000 low income Kansans now pay zero income taxes.

KPERS is out of the bankruptcy zone. Our funded liability percentage is up by 13% since 2012.

K-12 spending is at an all-time high. Up by more than $300 Million.

More than half the people who were on welfare are now off it and more importantly, they are getting out of poverty.

We have embraced innovation and modernization in our Medicaid system, providing more services and better outcomes for 20,000 more Kansans than before.

More than 96,000 Kansas children have participated in innovative reading programs.

Over 3,000 high school students have participated in the Jobs for America’s Graduate Program and graduated at a rate of 93%.

Participation in technical education has tripled since we began the program.

We are graduating 2,100 more engineers from our state universities.

We have controlled spending, reformed tax policy, and reduced burdensome regulations.

We have consolidated agencies, eliminated wasteful programs, and overhauled workers compensation.

We lifted the Major League Soccer Cup Trophy with Sporting KC.

And we have seen the Wichita State Shockers join basketball’s “big dance” every year since 2012.

Working together, we’ve created an economic environment that has seen Kansas gain more than 78,000 private sector jobs and achieve its lowest unemployment rate in fourteen years.

Working together, we’ve created an economic environment where hard-working Kansans have seen their wages increase more than 10%.

Kansans are finding good jobs, right here in our state.

Working together, we’ve created an economic environment where new filings for businesses increased by 15%.

Working together last year, we created a stable regulatory environment that will see nine new wind farms come on line this year, at an investment of nearly $3 billion.

Kansas is once again a national leader in wind energy development.

Mr. Speaker, Madam President, it is for these reasons — and many more — that I can report to you that the State of our State is STRONG.

Kansas is strong. And Kansas is GROWING.

It’s often said that Kansas feeds the world.

And we will continue to provide for our fellow Americans and support the global economy

By providing food:

Wheat, beef, and now dairy.

By providing energy:

Oil and gas, ethanol, and renewable.

By providing air travel:

From our manufacturers in Wichita and suppliers across South Central Kansas.

By providing recreation:

The National Water Trail, the Flint Hills Nature Trail, NASCAR and world class hunting and fishing.
Wildcat football.
Jayhawk Basketball.

And finally, by providing a business climate where the Financial Services Industry can grow and prosper under the leadership of the industry executives and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer.

One of the biggest challenges we face in much of Kansas is the future of our water.

One of my passions as Governor is to prepare the state to be in a better position for the future. To do that we’ve got to prepare today and in some cases we have to sacrifice some now so our kids and grandkids have better options.

The work we have accomplished to preserve and extend water resources in Kansas in the last three years has been significant.

The first Local Enhanced Management Area has been in operation for three years in 99 square miles of Northwest Kansas. They have reduced their water use by roughly 20 percent, and maintained their net income. That should extend the useful life of the Ogallala in that area by 25 years.

That is solid progress but more needs to happen.

We are, right now, dredging John Redmond Reservoir, the first federal reservoir to be dredged in the nation.

Whether it’s dredging projects or reducing our demands on the Ogallala, it’s going to take time and some sacrifice.

We are going to continue implementing action items in the Long Term Vision for Kansas Water.

With most natural resources, we aren’t just taking them to use for today. We are borrowing them from the future.

Perhaps no one individual has done more to protect our water than the recipient of the first Water Legacy Award.

Wayne Bossert was the long-time director of Groundwater Management District #4. Now retired, he led the organization at the time it formed the state’s first LEMA in Thomas and Sheridan County, to help preserve the aquifer.

Wayne — thank you for your vision to protect this vital resource for the future.

Speaking of the future. I’d like to talk about our investment in our children.

By far the biggest item funded by state government is education. That is as it should be.

But education in the 21st century can no longer be based on 19th century models.

Parents and educators across the state have sought innovative options, from alternative teacher certification and merit pay to scholarships backed by tax credits.

We must have an educational system that has a range of options in which our students can learn and prosper and grow.

Education is not done by money or buildings. It is done by teachers.

Teaching isn’t a job or a vocation. It’s a calling. I know. I have taught. Two of my children teach.

Former students are prized people to teachers. The bond of teacher and student never breaks.

Teachers need money to care for their needs. That’s why Kansans invest in education: so good teachers are able to do their calling and teach.

Yet today, of the more than $4 billion the state puts into education funding, not nearly enough goes toward instruction.

That’s highly inefficient, if not immoral, denying Kansans from putting their education dollars were they want it…behind a good teacher.

I call on the legislature to design a new education funding system that puts more of our money into instruction. That provides bonuses for exceptional teachers and recognizes their true value to our future and the souls of our students.

To keep Kansas strong we must also keep it safe.

In December, the Kansas Highway Patrol graduated its 55th class of troopers. It was the largest class in recent years.

I saw fathers pin badges on sons. I saw families stand proudly with their wife, husband, father, son or daughter as they received their badges. But I was most moved by the sight of twin brothers — one becoming a trooper and the other pinning on his badge.

Jonathan Blank became a KHP trooper that day, after serving as a U.S. Marine with two tours of duty in Iraq. He received his badge from his brother, Linden Blank also a U.S. Marine who served — and was gravely injured — in Afghanistan.

Please join me in recognizing these two outstanding young men from Augusta Kansas, who put the welfare of others before their own safety. Jonathan and Linden — thank you.

Elected officials have a responsibility to protect our citizens from all threats, foreign and domestic.

In this, the President has refused to lead.

He has prioritized his agenda and the feelings of the radical Islamic terrorists over the safety of Americans. He is unwilling to take simple actions to improve our security.

Therefore, we must act.

It is my responsibility, as Governor of this great state to do what we can to protect the citizens of Kansas.

And we must act to maintain the security of our state.

Last summer, in response to the attack on recruiting facilities in Tennessee, I ordered Adjutant General Tafanelli to complete a comprehensive security assessment of all Kansas National Guard facilities.

Included in his report was a plan to arm and train additional personnel and make security enhancements to our National Guard facilities. My budget proposal includes funding to support these activities.

I call on legislators from both sides of the aisle to strongly support this request and send a clear message to our troops that we stand with them.

In November, in response to the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris I directed all state agencies to immediately cease the placement of refugees from countries where potential terrorists can arise, due to our inability to verify their background. More than thirty other Governors across the nation joined in this call.

Governors, both Republican and Democrat, continue to question the federal government’s ability to properly screen people claiming to be refugees. Governors must have the information they need to protect the people they serve.

Instead of simply pausing his resettlement plan and working with the governors to address their legitimate security concerns, President Obama has chosen to pursue a path that puts Americans at risk.

Mr. President, this will not work.

We must — and will — act to protect the citizens of Kansas.

Last year we also learned that President Obama has resurrected his plan to close the terrorist detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and transfer terrorists to the United States.

His own Secretary of Defense knows it is not a good idea.

His own Attorney General knows it would be illegal.

The President does not care.

Therefore, we must be prepared to act. And we are.

Every member of the Kansas Congressional Delegation, the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, and I each stand at the ready to thwart every action the President takes to transfer terrorists to Kansas.

Kansas was founded by people of strength. People who understood the value of hard work, of friendship, of faith.

The strength of Kansas lies in the hearts and minds of our people. Here the people rule. All of our people.

James Madison, writing in the Federalist Papers, warned of the dangers of placing too much power in the noble elites that could control our judicial process. This warning rings true today.

Kansas is the only state in the country where the selection of Supreme Court justices is controlled by a handful of lawyers.

Kansas, however, is grounded in the principal of representative democracy.

The current selection method used for the Supreme Court removes the people of

Kansas from the process of selecting judges.

It places the process in the hands of those lawyers who regularly appear in front of the judges they select.

Well, enough is enough.

The Legislature should put before Kansas voters a proposed Constitutional amendment for a more democratic selection process for our Supreme Court justices.

We must have faith in the people. Here the people rule.

Since 1999, when the property tax lid was lifted, Kansans have seen those tax rates increased by 24 percent, and property tax revenue increase by 92%.

Understandably, people do not like this.

Your property taxes should not grow faster than your paycheck.

They carry heavy burdens on all Kansans, especially those living on fixed incomes.

Last year, you acted to place a lid on property taxes. That was a positive step.

The ability to raise taxes at the local level should not be made without consent and input from local citizens.

Voters should have the ability to make their voices heard with an up or down vote on any proposal that raises property taxes in excess of inflation.

I would welcome legislation that strengthens the property tax lid by closing the existing loopholes and puts it in place sooner.

Here, the people rule. Here, the people have a voice.

Kansans value self-sufficiency and independence.

But some Kansans are still struggling. And we have an obligation to help them.

We implemented common-sense requirements for those on welfare with the goal of providing economic opportunity instead of government dependency.

We said, if you have no disabilities and no children at home, you should work or train for work at least 20 hours per week.

The results are in. The reforms have worked.

Our caseloads are 70% lower today than they were before we made the change.

The work participation rate among enrollees nearly tripled.

The amount of time able-bodied adults spend on food stamps has been cut in half.

And those leaving welfare are better off!

Before work requirements, 93% of able-bodied adults on welfare were in poverty. Most were in severe poverty and not working at all.

But within a year of leaving welfare, their incomes had more than doubled – an increase of 127% on average.

The number of enrollees who have risen out of poverty tripled.

These are real people. These are our friends and families and neighbors. We’ve seen what happens when they get off welfare and have hope of a better life.

In Franklin County, a man had been trapped on welfare since early 2009. He had been on food stamps for four and a half years, with no end in sight.

He wasn’t working and had no earned income. But that all changed when the work requirement went into effect.

He began working. And after a year, he was earning $45,000 a year.

We have even seen the marriage rate go up as the numbers of men and women who are out of poverty and working has gone up.

We’re moving people out of poverty, out of dependency, and into self-sufficiency. We’re giving them the hope of a better life.

Our work to help struggling Kansans must continue.

That includes supporting access to quality health care.

When we took office in 2011, I asked Lt. Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer to modernize and transform the State’s Medicaid program. Previous administrations had cut reimbursement rates and reduced services, yet costs were still out of control.

Today, we have higher reimbursement rates for providers, more services for clients and, most importantly, we have better, measurable health outcomes for Kansans who participate in KanCare.

We have also saved nearly $1 Billion over the projected cost estimates for the old Medicaid program. We have proven that a Kansas solution is better than one from Washington, DC.

KanCare is working. ObamaCare is failing.

I grew up in a town with a population of 268. I do understand rural hospitals are often the lifeblood of their community.

ObamaCare has increased healthcare costs in Kansas and especially hurt rural healthcare.

It was ObamaCare that cut Medicare reimbursements to rural hospitals.

It was ObamaCare that caused the problem. We should not expand ObamaCare to solve the problem.

Tonight, I am asking Lt. Governor Colyer to assemble a working group to address the problems of health care delivery in rural Kansas and to present a proposal to me by this time next year.

As a fifth generation rural Kansan and a physician, I can think of no one better suited to take on this vital task than Dr. Colyer.

I believe this working group should have frontline stakeholders involved, including a rural hospital administrator and a rural physician at the same table as top policy makers.

We will welcome input from diverse organizations, but let’s be realistic. Congress recently voted to defund expansion. We cannot rely on yet another ObamaCare false promise

We can and should find a Kansas solution that will improve rural healthcare access and outcomes.

Ensuring the health and safety of Kansans means protecting all Kansans at every stage of life.

We must keep working to protect our most innocent Kansans, the unborn. We have become the shining city on the hill and the champions for life.

As Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote: “Every nation that carries in its bosom great and unredressed injustice has in it the elements of this last convulsion.”

Kansas was founded on the principal that every life has dignity, that every life has beauty, that every life has value.

Every year since I became Governor we have enacted pro-life legislation.

We have come a long way, but there is still work to be done.

In 2011, I signed legislation stopping most taxpayer funding from going to Planned Parenthood. The time has come to finish the job.

Planned Parenthood’s trafficking of baby body parts is antithetical to our belief in human dignity.

Today, I am directing Secretary Susan Mosier to ensure that not a single dollar of taxpayer money goes to Planned Parenthood through our Medicaid program. I welcome legislation that would enshrine this directive in state law.

As we begin this year’s legislative session, I leave you with this timeless question:

The Ancients asked of God, “Who is man that you are mindful of him?” They saw an Earth so big and awe inspiring. A sky so vast. Stars without number. They felt small and insignificant.

Modern man suffers no such humility.

We deem ourselves masters of our own destiny. The Earth our ship to guide and life a voyage where we choose the destinations.

So who is right?

We conquer one problem but new ones arise in increasing number. We are perplexed when things don’t go as we think they should.

Maybe our forefathers were closer to right than we thought. What if God is bigger than we can think and we actually are smaller than we can believe?

Wouldn’t that give us the proper awe of a sunset and thankfulness for our lives and blessings?

With that in mind, I invite each of us to be thankful and enjoy the chance to serve our fellow citizens in such a wonderful role. To also think more highly of others than we do of ourselves — even if they are of a different political persuasion.

I’ll seek to do this. I also invite each of us to contemplate and consider the reasons we are here. In this job. At this time. In this place.

Questions to which our ancestors would quickly and humbly reply, “To love God and one another.”

God bless you all. Have a great session.

Preview: Pompeo on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo offers a preview of tomorrow’s State of the Union Address.

“The American people have heard the president deliver thousands of empty words in his State of the Union addresses. While the president may be content with simply touting policies that he thinks will help secure his legacy, the American people won’t settle for business as usual in 2016.

“Here is what I hope the president will discuss during this year’s State of the Union, all of which he would find a strong partner in Congress. First, he needs to create a real strategy for America to lead the fight against radical Islamic extremists. He then needs to put aside his feckless Iran deal and work to actually stop the largest state sponsor of terrorism from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He should also go on-the-record and finally acknowledge that moving dangerous terrorists housed at Guantanamo Bay to sites around the U.S., including Fort Leavenworth in Kansans’ own backyard, dramatically increases the risk to Americans. Finally, he should propose effective policies to keep Americans safe from gun violence that doesn’t infringe on Kansans’ cherished Second Amendment Rights. These are all critical issues that Kansans and Americans believe are important.

I look forward the president’s address, and will work with my colleagues to put our country on a better, stronger course for the future.”

View video below, or click here to view at YouTube.