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Something to Think About - keep (227)

After I made my decision to retire from the legislature I got involved in the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas which is a broad based statewide coalition of individuals and organizations that have come together to improve the health of  Kansans.

The first policy goal of the Alliance is to improve access to care by expanding KanCare, the Kansas Medicaid program. Alliance members include business leaders, doctors and hospitals, social service and safety net organizations, faith communities, chambers of commerce, advocates for health care consumers, and others.

Over the last eight months the Alliance has held 36 community meetings across Kansas, including one in Emporia last September that directly engaged thousands of Kansans. The work of the Alliance has confirmed that expanding KanCare impacts and will benefit all Kansans. 

Last week the House Health Committee held hearings on expanding KanCare. Doctors and leaders of community health centers and mental health centers testified that expanding KanCare will make Kansans healthier.  In addition to improved health and lower death rates, Kansans who are eligible for coverage under expansion will see reduced medical debt, better credit scores, and an improved chance of finding and keeping employment.   While there is a lot of talk about expanding KanCare providing a disincentive to work, the opposite is true.  A study of Ohio’s Medicaid expansion population found that the policy improved the expansion population’s employment status and prospects.  Area patients of Flint Hills Community Health Center and Crosswinds will benefit significantly from the expansion of KanCare.

Newman Hospital is enjoying improving stability after being designated as a critical access hospital.  Unfortunately thirty-one Kansas hospitals are considered financially vulnerable, in part because they provide millions of dollars’ of uncompensated care.

Larger hospitals in Kansas including Via Christi in Wichita and others have been forced to lay off hundreds of employees because of the failure to expand KanCare.  The League of Municipalities, has described how dozens of communities and their taxpayers must pay higher local taxes to support their hospitals because the state has not expanded KanCare.  

Expanding KanCare will provide resources to hospitals and reduce uncompensated care costs.  In turn, this will lessen the need for local taxpayers to pay higher sales, property, and district taxes to support their hospitals.  Research has shown that expansion often times means the difference between profit or loss for rural hospitals.  We cannot allow another closure like that experienced by Mercy Hospital in Independence – especially when there is a solution.

The closure  Independence hospital caused the loss of more than 190 good paying jobs.  Kansas lost 9,400 private sector jobs last year.  We cannot afford to lose any more.  Leaders of dozens of Chambers of Commerce including Emporia’s have described how expanding KanCare creates jobs, stimulates the economy, and helps businesses.   

The issue of whether or not to expand KanCare impacts every Kansas taxpayer.  To date, the state has forfeited over $1.6 billion of Kansas taxpayers’ money because we have chosen not to expand KanCare. That money could have been brought back to Kansas to create jobs, protect hospitals and local taxpayers, and most importantly to improve the health of Kansans.  Instead our tax dollars have gone to other states that have expanded.  Expanding Medicaid does not contribute to the deficit or debt because it is part of a budget neutral bill at the federal level.  At the state level, expanding KanCare would help the Legislature address our budget problems.  Other states have experienced positive budget impacts as a result of expansion.  It is projected that expanding KanCare would result in a $69.2 million net gain to the state budget in 2017.  

It is past time the Kansas Legislature votes to expand Medicaid.  I trust that will happen.  A recent American Cancer Society poll found that 82% of Kansas voters support expansion. When the legislature passes expansion What will Governor Brownback do. Well that is the subject for another day.

That is something to think about.  I am Don Hill 

          Saturday night Emporia State University will hold a Gala to mark the end of their 150 year celebration.

          My name is Steve Sauder and I am a Hornet.

Let me suggest this is a great time to be a Hornet.

Why you ask?

          Because, while Emporia State has had many fine hours and tons of accomplishments over the years there has never been a time when the future appeared to be this bright –  even with amazingly awful budget cuts in place and with more expected.

          Nobody saw this coming.

          Two years ago enrollment at ESU was seriously low and falling. The campus totally lacked excitement and the hope for the future was dim.

          On January 3, 2012 Michael Shonrock became Emporia State’s new President. He wasn’t wearing a cape, so expectations weren’t that great.

          What we didn’t know was that Shonrock has a different way to look at things than most leaders. He never gets caught up on what is notpossible, but always looks to find out what can be done.

          His style is perfect for Emporia. His leadership has transformed the ESU campus and many think our community as well!

          What Michael found at Emporia State was a place that had a culture of doing more with less. Despite not having had a pay increase for a longtime he found a hard working, dedicated and talented faculty and staff.

          Unfortunately for Shonrock state support for Emporia State has been even less than he expected when he took the job. Kansas lawmakers have done little to aid higher education during his two years in Emporia.

          Despite these difficult conditions the University is growing and making plans for exciting major changes. Budget cuts have forced the elimination of over 70 positions at Emporia State, but morale seems strong. Fact is, I attended the most recent General Assembly at the start of the new semester and the faculty and staff in attendance were pumped up and excited!

          Throw in the increasingly strong and amazing results form the ESU Foundation’s Now and Forever Campaign (over half way to the $45 million goal) and you understand something special is going on at Emporia State University.

          Two National Championships in Debate; a play off football team, #7 nationally ranked ladies basketball team, track and field accomplishments out the wazoo along with academic accomplishments too many to count don’t hurt either.

          One on my favorite saying is “the speed of the leader determines the speed of the pack.”

          Obviously, ESU’s leader has us running real fast.

          I’m Steve Sauder and I am a Hornet. Stingers Up!

Something to think about! - Shirley Antes - Director of Emporia Community Foundation

I’ve got something for you to think about – “Keep 5 in Kansas”!

That’s right – “Keep 5 in Kansas”!

It’s a campaign.  It’s an opportunity.  It’s a way of leaving a legacy.  It’s all of these things AND it’s something to think about.

Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to ensure our cities, towns and counties remain great places to live for future generations.  The “Keep 5 in Kansas” campaign highlights the unprecedented transfer of wealth that will occur in the next 40 years as estates change hands from the Greatest Generation to the Baby Boomers, and then to their children and grandchildren.  In Kansas, this transfer of wealth is estimated to be $79 billion by 2020.  By 2064 it will increase to nearly $600 billion!  For Lyon County alone this transfer of wealth equals $845 million by 2020 and by 2064 $6.5 billion.

So, how can we keep a portion of the transfer of wealth in Kansas and more importantly in our own communities?  The “Keep 5 in Kansas” campaign asks every Kansan to consider designating a portion of their estate wealth – even 5% -- by setting up an endowment through their local community foundation. By doing this, we could provide a permanent source of funding for local organizations and charitable causes that will greatly improve the lives of future generations.

So, think about what matters to you. What are the causes you care about? What would you do to make sure the things that matter to you today have a secure future, long after you’re gone?  How can you help ensure that future generations will benefit from the wonderful resources we have in our community?  There are many options for establishing an endowment and with a little planning, we can all make a difference for our communities, our families, our friends and our neighbors, forever.

Now that’s -- Something to think about!

For more information, visit the “Keep 5 in Kansas” website at keepfiveinkansas.com or call the Emporia Community Foundation at 342-9304.

This week seems to have barely begun and yet – does it seem to anyone other than me that we have had enough headlines for weeks.

President Trump has been busy in his first dozen days after taking the oath of office.  I believe he has taken some meaningful positive action and made other moves which cause me great concern.   Kind of reminds me of the playground game we played way back in the day – he has taken 4 scissor steps forward and several baby steps backward. 

I am especially concerned about the Presidents immigration ban and the way it was implemented.  What was he thinking about?  Who did he consult?  Were the consequences of this action, both intended and unintended, carefully considered?

In the aftermath of this action I am grateful for the wisdom and guidance from the faith community as well as counsel from leaders in business (especially the tech industry), education, homeland security and defense.

Elected officials in both parties have raised voices of concern including all of our Kansas congressional delegation.  Senator Jerry Moran and Representative Kevin Yoder responded quickly.

Senator Moran said  “ While I support thorough vetting, I do not support restricting the rights of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents  Furthermore, far-reaching national security policy should always be devised in consultation with Congress and relevant government agencies.”

Representative  Kevin Yoder  said his office will work with constituents who, as lawful permanent residents of the United States, are unfairly detained under the executive order. Yoder said he supports pausing refugee resettlement in the U.S. but opposes more expansive restrictions.

Yoder stated further that “President Trump and the White House must work with the State Department and (Department of Homeland Security) to ensure that green card holders and valid visa recipients who have already gone through vetting don’t get swept up by this order because it is interpreted too broadly.”

The higher education community in Kansas has also expressed concern.

K-States president Richard Myers, who was also chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Republican President George W. Bush, said in a statement that Kansas State has reached out to all international students and scholars with travel advice while the ban is in place.

“K-State deeply values the contributions of our international family members and regrets the disruption this situation is causing in their lives. As a public research university with global connections, we are concerned about the detrimental effects of this policy on those pursuing academic studies and research.” said Myers.

A spokesman for prominent Kansas businessman Charles Koch said he opposed President Trump’s controversial ban on immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries.

In a statement he said "We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families. The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive,"

I understand there is disagreement regarding this issue but I believe the President has stubbed his toe on this one.  Donald J. Trump is our President.  He is my President and I wish for his success.  There is not a President in history who has not acknowledged they made mistakes while serving in the most powerful office in the world.

I believe we must all be willing to find ways to work together and I hope President Trump will be caring and careful.  We will all be best served when he finds the capacity to learn from his, and others, success as well as missteps.

That is something to think about!

          Donald Trump said it’s time to “Shut down the influx of Muslims coming into the United States.”

          I have a better idea – maybe it’s time to shut down Donald Trump!

          I won’t resort to name calling because that’s what Trump does, but this guy takes the cake. How his candidacy keeps moving forward and maintaining its support is a mystery to me.

          Donald Trump has insulted everyone from the President of the United States to about every foreign leader in power. He’s disrespected Hispanics, veterans, congressmen and senators, not to mention women, handicapped people and the media.

          If you disagree with Donald Trump he calls you a name and says you are incompetent.

          Monday he may have gone too far when he suggested the U.S. shut off our country to Muslims.

          This wacky idea is illegal and violates more than one article of our constitution not to mention it would be impossible to do.

          With this idea Trump has taken on a religion that has a reported 1.5 billion followers many who live in the United States and are law abiding citizens. Who will be next for Trump? Catholics, Jews or maybe Methodists?

The man is out of control yet he has supporters.

I may have an idea to slow him down. The media could if it had the fortitude of Joe Scarborough the former member of congress that now hosts the “Morning Joe” on MSNBC.

Yesterday Trump was a live guest on the “Morning Joe,” but he would not shut up to allow for questions. Scarborough told Trump either you shut up and allow me ask a question or we are going to a break. Trump kept talking so Scarborough took a break. When the show came back live Trump was quiet and answered questions.

Maybe the media should do the same thing when Trump insults them. Just get up and walk out. CNN ought to uninvite him to their debate on the 15th. If the media made a pact and quit covering Trump he might be forced to behave. You think?

American politics have taken on a new twist and I for one don’t like it or him for that matter!

I’m Steve Sauder

In today’s world “the truth” has become a pretty allusive thing to tie down.

          ESU professor Michael Smith offered a new term in his recent Wichita Eagle piece. It was “post-truth.”

          In fact the Oxford English Dictionary declared “post-truth” the “word of the year!”

          Defined it is: “Relating or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs.”

          Obviously it also explains much of the past year in terms of things we have heard and or read. Too many stories that when fact checked were not quite what the person creating them had implied.

          Of course our President-elect Donald Trump leads the world in things said that turned out to not be exactly as he described them. No, he actually leads the universe, but who’s counting.

          Mrs. Clinton had her share, but probably not in the same class as The Donald.

My point today isn’t so much to indict our President-elect, but to point out that telling the truth has become a not so popular thing to do.

Unfortunately many of our leaders are guilty to some degree.

          Post-truth is running wild.

          Example: In 2013 while defending his new health care plan President Obama said “If you like your insurance plan you can keep it.” He did eventually apologize, but his gaff was still tabbed the “lie of the year.”

          Bernie Sander’s plan for “Free Tuition” for all was amusing to me.

          Sorry Bernie, but there aren’t any free lunches. Free maybe if you don’t pay taxes. Somebody would have to pay for that tuition, but “appealing to the emotions” of people with tuition to pay or large debts still unpaid was effective. It wasn’t a big lie, but “free tuition” was certainly not the truth.

          Now - the real test. Can our next president figure out how to govern without abusing the truth?

          I think Circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs will be much more difficult to find for him as president.

          I’m Steve Sauder.

          “That’ll be the day!”

          John Wayne or Buddy Holly?

          Take your pick cause they both said or sang that line. Duke in the movie “The Searchers” in 1956 and Holly after he wrote a song with that title.

          Holly is listed as the 13th most influential rock and roll personality of our time. That’s pretty amazing when you learn that his career lasted a mere one and a half years before he died in a plane crash on a snowy Iowa night.

          Richie Valens, the Big Bopper and their pilot died in the crash. Waylon Jennings, a band member gave up his seat that night.

Holly’s wife of two months missed the flight because she had morning sickness. She later said had she been there “Buddy would not have gotten on that plane.” She miscarried the day after learning of his death. She did not attend the funeral nor has she ever been to the gravesite.

          Holly grew up in Lubbock, Texas as Charles Hardin Holley – spelled with an “e.” The “e” got dropped when it was inadvertently spelled wrong on a recording contract.

          Holly has 40 songs registered with ASCP and BMI. He actually did his first recording at age 13 with Hank Snow, but released only three albums in his lifetime.

          Buddy Holly’s most famous songs? Take your pick from: That’ll Be the Day; Peggy Sue; O Boy; Maybe Baby; It Doesn’t Matter Any More; It’s So Easy; True Love Ways; Well All Right; or my favorite Not Fade Away that the Grateful Dead reportedly performed over 500 times in concerts and appears on 8 of their live recording releases.

          Holly had a profound effect on other artists such as Bob Dylan who attended a Holly concert at age 17, or the Rolling Stones’s Keith Richards who attended a concert and heard “Not Fade Away.” The Stones later did a cover on that song.

          The Beatles watched a Holly concert on TV in England and reportedly took their name partly in homage to Holly who’s band was the Crickets – also a bug.

          The death of the three performers was the subject of several songs over time with the most noted being Don McLean’s “American Pie.” It references the tragedy as “the day the music died.”

          Buddy Holly was in Emporia last Friday night and it was time of fond memories for at least one person who was 13 when the music died. He did own several Buddy Holly 45’s! Including…… That’ll be the Day.

          I’m Steve Sauder

There is or should be an ongoing debate locally about the strategy for economic development utilizing local Emporia and Lyon County tax revenues.

Decoded that means the recent failure to obtain re-zoning of the Price tract has the Regional Development Association and Emporia Enterprises questioning the commitment of Lyon County to be a partner in their plans.

Commissioner Scott Briggs cast the dissenting vote. An RDA member as well Briggs said his vote reflected not knowing what the land usage would be and his personal feeling the RDA’s strategy for attracting jobs needed to be re-visited.

No doubt the Price tract is well suited for development and maintaining Emporia’s foot in the door is not a bad idea. But, if we plan to keep offering free shovel ready ground plus tax abatement to prospects we need to make sure the jobs attached are not marginal in nature. My suggestion is the RDA look more strongly at the quality of the jobs versus the number.

All economic development activity needs to consider three factors present in Emporia today.

First is the potential for assisting Emporia State University as our most effective economic development strategy.

Please consider these two questions:

Number 1. Which would benefit Emporia more?

Seventy new full-time students at ESU or seventy new jobs?

Number 2. Which – students or jobs - would be more difficult to attract?

Second, part of attracting and growing new jobs is having workers to fill those jobs. I am watching with interest Birch Telecom’s efforts to add over a hundred new employees. Are there applicants for the new Birch jobs? And, where are these people coming from.

Emporia appears to have a lack of qualified people looking for work.

Last is housing - if Emporia is successful in attracting new people to Emporia for jobs – where will they live? Lack of suitable housing must be addressed if we hope to grow.

Failure to address the labor market question and availability of housing for new employees might undermine the most excellent efforts of the RDA!

With all that said I hope the stated efforts of Lyon County to be more active in economic development is not viewed as a challenge to the RDA, but as a more willing partner. The re-zoning disagreement should not be viewed as a road block, but maybe as a challenge with legitimate questions needing good answers.

Hopefully everyone concerned will come to the table to examine and re-examine the strategies for growing our area. Cooperation between our units of government is at an all time best, so let’s keep pulling together.

I’m Steve Sauder and there’s something to Think About.

The following are exerts from an editorial printed in the Gazette on Monday that was written by the Hutchinson News. I’m thinking it indicates why the proposed Keystone Pipeline proposal is so confusing.

From the HutchinsonNews: “When Congress — not if — sends the president a bill authorizing the Keystone XL oil pipeline, he ought to sign it contingent on approval by the legislatures in the states affected. The fixation on this pipeline has become irrational, and it shouldn’t be decided by irrational politicians.

The reality is both the concerns against and the benefits touted about the pipeline are exaggerated. The jobs would be temporary, so the economic benefit is grossly overpromoted. It isn’t about gas prices, which already are low and falling. At the same time, the environmental concerns seem hollow. Canada already is mining the oil, and the U.S. State Department has concluded the risk of an oil spill is slight.

First of all, know that two-thirds of the pipeline already is completed. It already carries crude from the oil sand fields in Canada into Oklahoma, where it can get to the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed XL portion provides for a couple of additions to the network.

Consequently, it seems like the proverbial horse is already out of the barn, so why such a fight is being waged at the federal level is puzzling. But that’s politics.

The Keystone XL project on Tuesday fell a single vote short of proceeding in the Senate. Doesn’t matter. It will be approved once Republicans take control of the Senate in January.

The debate over the Keystone XL shouldn’t be in Washington but at the state level.

And finally the Hutch News says: “The debate is done for Kansas, where the pipeline already has been built.

Kansas landowners and county governments got ignored when TransCanada built the 210-mile pipeline through six counties. Those counties lost about $8.5 million a year on the deal. That while being tasked with providing fire and emergency service in the event of a pipeline explosion or other accident.”

They concluded “It isn’t fair for politicians to cast away the interests of the local citizens who will live with the pipeline for their own political gain.”

Wow! Let’s see – jobs being overstated; gas prices already falling, so need is not so great; the threat of an oil spill is overrated; the Keystone Pipeline is already 2/3 built and won’t build anymore in Kansas; but six Kansas counties are losers already and could lose more; and yet our elected people still support this project.

            Help me – am I missing something?

I’m Steve Sauder and there’s something to think about.

Any changes in Donald Trump after January 20th will be of great interest to Americans and the world.

My fascination with him today has to do with one factor – the truth. Trump seems to believe “the truth” is whatever or however he sees something in order to make it work for him.

This has been coined as “post truth,” which we discussed a couple of weeks ago.

The New York Times recently quoted Trump talking about truth and Tony Schwartz who was the ghost writer on his book “the Art of the Deal.”

Trump said, “Schwartz did have one phrase I really loved in my book. He said “I play to people’s fantasies” by using “truthful hyperbole.” What he meant is I make stuff up.”

Trump continues, “Nobody cares. They want to dream. They want a spectacle. They want gold and towers. They want me to get tough. Fact-checkers! Is that even a job?”

Then Trump actually says, “I know what Americans want. They don’t want truth. They want excitement, disruption. They want to be led. They want authority. They want victories. They want parades. They want a wall at the Mexican border — so let them think I really might build one!”

The $64 question becomes can President of the United States Trump get away with not telling the truth in the same manner as TV Star Trump or businessman Trump or candidate Trump or President-Elect Trump?

It would seem to me that being truthful might be an essential for the most powerful man in the world, but thus far Donald Trump hasn’t worried much about “the truth.” Do you think President Trump will be held to higher standard?

If “the truth will set you free,” as many of us have learned the hard way – what is the opposite reaction?

Starting on January 20th Americans, no, the world will see how President Trump handles something as simple as “the truth.” At minimum this will be “Something to Think About!”

I’m Steve Sauder