The following editorial is attributed to Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka:
As of November 2015, Osage County is one of 36 counties in the state without an assigned Kansas Highway Patrol officer. This is unacceptable. There should never be a shortage of law enforcement officers or within any area of public safety.
To address the shortage, the Highway Patrol’s superintendent is proposing an increase to vehicle title fees from $10 to $17.50. He says the fee increase would allow the patrol to hire an additional 75 troopers.
This may seem like a nominal fee for an investment in public safety, but it should not be necessary. The shortage is a direct result of poor fiscal management by Governor Brownback and his rubber stamping allies in the Kansas Legislature.
Despite the largest tax increase in the history of our state, Kansas still faces a shortfall of nearly $200 million for the current and next fiscal year combined. The steady decline of revenue available in the state general fund has resulted in staffing shortages in other state agencies responsible for providing public safety services, including the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Corrections.
We cannot afford to continue on the current path. We cannot continue to rely on taxes and fees on average Kansans for the sake of tax breaks for the wealthy in order to provide services that keep all Kansans safe. It is time for Kansas to move in a new direction with responsible fiscal management of the state general fund that provides for proper staffing of essential public safety services.