Is the Teflon Off the Sebelius Administration?
By Karl Peterjohn, Kansas Taxpayers Network, www.kansastaxpayers.com
Second terms are often difficult and contentious for Kansas governors. Bill Graves’ second term was filled with higher taxes, a record long legislative session and imbroglio oversoaring state spending, and a weakened Kansas economy in his last year, 2002.
Now Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius may have run into some similar second term problems with a new utility issue over rates suddenly reappearing. This problem followed in the wake of the Sebelius administration’s health and environment secretary’s ruling that rejected a proposed power plant expansion in southwest Kansas. This utility rate issue flared into a front page problem when the state agency overseeing utility rate hikes raised questions about communications between the governor, utility officials, and the impact this might have on the state rate setters in the Kansas Corporation Commission.
Governor Sebelius did not receive this type of inquisitive or extensive news coverage when she proposed to raise property, income, and sales taxes during her first term as governor. The highly irregular school finance lawsuit that resulted in a special legislative session and a plan to spend an additional $2000 per pupil in additional state spending on public schools did not receive this type of media scrutiny either.
It is important for Kansans to note that newspapers like the Wichita Eagle that ignored Governor Sebelius’ trip to Turkey this year to give a closed-door speech to the Bilderberg group in Istanbul’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel at taxpayer expense initially began reporting this utility controversy on their front page. The Eagle as well as a number of other Kansas newspapers did not seem interested in this tax funded overseas trip and this abuse of the Kansas Open Meetings and Open Records statutes but are interested in utility rates.
The controversy over setting electric rates for wind and other politically correct power generation forms raises some interesting questions about Kansas’ economy in this early part of the 21st century. In the past, Kansans have been happy to export wheat, cattle, aircraft, automobiles, and a variety of other products but now the idea of building an expansion on a coal fired power plant that might export some of its electricity has been rejected by the Sebelius administration. This rejection might destroy the feasibility of building wind power facilities too.
Sebelius’ bankrupt secretary of health and environment Rod Bremby is in a difficult position of rejecting a power plant expansion because of carbon dioxide emissions while authorizing new ethanol plants that also emit CO2. This ruling is inconsistent and contradictory. Denying future permits because of carbon dioxide emissions will shut down a huge number of businesses in this state. These problems could expand much further since there are a huge number of firms emitting carbon dioxide. So the risk and uncertainty in operating a Kansas business will be a growing problem in this hostile business climate.
In northern California an effort is underway to ban the use of fireplaces because of carbon dioxide pollution. Tractors and a host of other diesel or gasoline powered engines emit carbon dioxide too.
The future of Kansas requires reliable electricity production but our state leaders focus lies elsewhere. The sizable hoopla in south central Kansas is now over a new state owned and operated casino to be located somewhere within the boundaries of Sumner County. It is interesting to note that the Kansas Supreme Court must define, “state owned and operated,” and that is being litigated while four firms are seeking the license for the casino in the south central part of Kansas to go with “state owned and operated,” casinos in the southeast and Kansas City areas.
Kansas government should know that owning and operating casinos as well as government buildings will all require efficient and reliable sources of electricity.