Friday, February 6, 2015

Is Governor Sam Brownback Bizarro Robin Hood?

Kansas is broke. Governor Sam Brownback lowered taxes on the wealthiest Kansans a couple of years ago, hoping it would stimulate our economy. It didn't work. Now our state has a huge budget deficit. Governor Brownback has another great idea. He announced yesterday that he will cut education spending. Big shock. 

Go after the kids. They don't vote. Those bums just mooch off the state. They don't have jobs. They don't contribute to society. They just take and take and take and take, and what do they give back to the state?

Well, how about this, Governor Brownback? Kids give our state its future. Or are you too short-sighted to see it? I don't understand someone who robs from the poor and gives to the rich. It's as if our governor is Bizarro Robin Hood.

When my eight-year-old, Kate, was sick a couple of weeks ago, she woke up one morning and announced that she wished she could send her germs to her enemy, our governor, Sam Brownback. I laughed at the ridiculousness of the idea. "We don't wish illness upon our enemies, Sweetie," I said. I felt like we were back at the playground, learning how to get along with bratty kids. My parental advice has evolved from "we don't hit other people" to "we don't practice germ warfare" as Kate grows and experiences unfair attacks. 

Kate's been mad at Governor Brownback ever since he won re-election in November. She hears her father and me complain about his policies which aid the wealthiest citizens and ignore the neediest. She becomes righteously indignant. She needs help channeling her anger for good. 

"Try to remember Ruby Bridges," I tell Kate. Last year she binge read books about that brave little girl who was the first black student to attend an all-white elementary school in the South. "Remember what her mom told her to do: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

I admit, though, it's hard to pray when you're angry. I certainly didn't feel very loving toward our governor when I read the news yesterday.

I find that when I don't know what to do, when I feel helpless and powerless and voiceless, when it feels like my prayers go unanswered and my love isn't strong enough to pierce my enemies' hardened hearts, the best thing I can do it write.

Here is the letter I sent to Governor Brownback this morning:

My daughter is a third grade student at a public school in Overland Park, KS. Her school needs more funding, as do all the public school across our great state. We need to prepare these young minds to be competitive in a global marketplace. We need to give public school students the opportunity to learn and increase their brain power so they can come up with solutions to the many problems we will face in the future. These students will be in charge some day. They will be taking care of us when we are old. I want them to be fully prepared to lead, and to come up with innovative ways to strengthen our communities. The best way to prepare a child for the future is to provide her with an excellent education. Excellent public schools need funding to operate. If you cut funding to already under-funded classrooms, our future leaders and innovators will not receive the education they need to do their future jobs. I understand that our state needs to balance its budget. To alleviate the financial crisis, please raise taxes on our state's wealthiest citizens to the levels they were before you took office, rather than raiding the institutions that serve our most vulnerable citizens: public school children.

Feel free to use my letter as an example when crafting your own letter to Governor Brownback. You can email him here. Maybe if enough of us contact him he'll start to listen. After all, he asked for it. This is the response I received after submitting my letter to Governor Brownback:

It is an honor and a privilege to represent you the citizens of Kansas as Governor, and in order to help our great state continue to move forward I want to be responsive to your needs and concerns.  Please help by contacting my office and sharing your views and concerns about those issues facing our great state. Thank you for contacting my office to express your views and concerns. I always enjoy hearing from my fellow Kansans, for there is no better guide to decision making. --Governor Sam Brownback

Let's see if he keeps his word and uses it as a "guide to decision making".