KHI News Service

Rally held to protest potential cuts to education and social service spending

About 80 people demonstrated on the first day of the 2013 Legislature

By Dave Ranney | January 14, 2013

About 80 people braved below-freezing temperatures to take part in a rally at the Statehouse today protesting potential cuts in education programs and social services to offset the consequences of a tax cut package signed into law last year by Gov. Sam Brownback.

“We want legislators to know that while the Brownback agenda has a super majority in both the House and Senate, there are a lot of Kansans who want the state to continue being moderate and reasonable in its approach to dealing with these issues,” said Jan Swartzendruber of Wichita, one of the rally’s organizers.

Brownback is expected to roll out his plan for balancing state revenues and spending during his State of the State address on Tuesday.

The rally, held outside the Statehouse, was a project of the MoveOn groups in Johnson and Shawnee counties. It was billed as “The Peoples State of the State Address.”

“We are very worried about how Brownback’s policies are going to affect people economically as well as the effect they’re going to have on education and health care,” Swartzendruber said.

Among those addressing the rally were Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat; former State Rep. Ann Mah, a Topeka Democrat; Lisa Ochs of the American Federation for Teachers-Kansas, Karen Godfrey of the Kansas National Education Association, Micheline Burger of the Mainstream Coalition, Elise Higgins of the Kansas National Organization for Women, Sarah Gillooly of Kansas Planned Parenthood.

Nancy Wagner, a MoveOn member from Overland Park, held a sign that read, “Expand Access to Medicaid - Don’t leave behind 130,000 of our Kansas neighbors,” a reference to concerns that Brownback and the Legislature might reject expanding Medicaid eligibility.

“I used to work for SRS (the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services now known as the Department for Children and Families),” Wagner said, “I saw that people who were on Medicaid needed it, and I saw a lot of people who needed it but couldn’t get it.”

Wagner said she worked at SRS more than 20 years. She retired last year.

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