- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Critics of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and the GOP-dominated state government’s conservative leanings rallied Thursday at the Statehouse, promising sustained protests and get-out-the vote efforts.

Nearly 200 people participated in the event staged by the Wichita-based group Kansas People’s Action, including union officials, environmentalists, advocates for immigrants and liberal community organizers. They later converged outside Brownback’s office on the second floor, delivering a poster-sized yellow card demanding a state government “that works for all of us.”

Their causes included additional funding for public schools and an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, providing health coverage for the poor and disabled, as contemplated by the federal health overhaul. They were critical of massive personal income tax cuts enacted at Brownback’s urging, viewing them as favoring the wealthy.

Organizers promised several more events through mid-May and distributed cards asking rally participants to commit to volunteer or donate money.

“We are looking for a new dawn, because a new day is coming,” said the Rev. Carieta Grizzell, pastor at the Grant Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wichita.

In his annual State of the State address last week, Brownback said Kansas is leading a low-tax, smaller government “American Renaissance.” He and his allies expect the tax cuts pushed by the governor to stimulate the economy.

“I would argue that a government that creates jobs, lowers unemployment and puts money back in the pockets of Kansans if for the people,” said Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley.

The Republican-dominated Legislature last year banned an expansion of Medicaid through June 2015, questioning whether the federal government will keep promises to fund almost all the cost. Brownback has voiced similar concerns and said his priority is increasing in-home services to the disabled. Many Republican lawmakers also want Kansas entangled as little as possible in the federal health care overhaul promoted by President Barack Obama.

Republicans enjoy a significant advantage over Democrats among the state’s registered voters, and the state GOP’s base leans to the right on both fiscal and social issues. For Wednesday’s anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion across the nation, hundreds of abortion opponents converged on the Statehouse.

But Carlos Contreras, Kansas People’s Action president, said: “We’re asking people step up and have their voice heard, because many people out there are hurting, across the board.”

___

Follow John Hanna on Twitter at www.twitter.com/apjdhanna .

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide