Shortly voters in Emporia’s school district will be receiving ballots for the proposed $78 million bond issue for safety and security; addition and renovation of academic space; building systems and improved traffic flow.

          My purpose today is not to influence your vote. I spoke two weeks ago about my support for this bond and my trust in the work of our school leaders. Today I am cautioning voters about the efforts from the outside to influence this election.

          That opposition is coming from the Kansas Policy Institute. Steve Rose, a highly respected Kansas City journalist recently wrote the following about this group.

The Kansas “Fallacy” Institute, er, I mean Kansas Policy Institute, headquartered in Wichita, is called a think tank.

But that is a misnomer because the folks who crank out numbers there don’t really think about issues at all. Rather, they take a preconceived notion that government and schools are enormously wasteful and inefficient and then concoct absurd calculations to make it seem so.

To what end does the institute spew out its gross distortions? Its stated goal is to shrink government and to dramatically lower taxes. I would add: Regardless of the possible negative effect on services. The institute never seems to conclude that the public is being served well and that our exceptional quality of life is something worth spending a little more on.

Founded in 1996 and reportedly funded by the billionaire libertarian Koch brothers of Wichita — who hate virtually all government — the institute publicizes its phony numbers that are then embraced by vocal radicals, who spew them so often, the public starts to wonder, hmm, maybe there is truth to those claims.

The institute knows the public usually does not have either the time or inclination to get the details of the real story. The headline numbers stick, not the long, boring details of the truth.

Two of the primary targets of the Kansas Policy Institute are local schools and local government, entities that have been doing a magnificent job of providing the community’s enviable quality of life.

          Let me repeat Steve Rose’s warning that the institute publicizes its phony numbers that are then embraced by vocal radicals.

          That’s happening locally as the Kansas Policy Institute has been assisted locally by a group that is disciples of the – always cut taxes - thinking espoused by the Sam Brownback crowd.

          Hopefully, Emporia patrons won’t be fooled.         

          Please get the facts and vote, our kids need you.

          I’m Steve Sauder

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