Archive for Leavenworth

Legislators express different views on fiscal matters

Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

Tom Burroughs and Steve Fitzgerald have different views about how to solve the budget shortfall facing the state of Kansas.

Burroughs, representing the 33rd District that includes the Muncie community, Edwardsville and Bonner Springs, and Fitzgerald, who represents the Piper community, Lansing and Leavenworth, presented their views at a legislative coffee Saturday, March 11, at the Bonner Springs Library. About 50 persons attended; the League of Women Voters and the NAACP of Bonner Springs, sponsored the event.

Burroughs is a moderate Democrat and Fitzgerald is a conservative Republican. Both voted against a budget proposal that Gov. Sam Brownback proposed. Now legislators are trying to find a tax plan that would solve the state’s immediate shortfall of about $280 million. Brownback had proposed increasing the tax on alcohol and tobacco and business filing fees.

A proposal to increase state income tax and eliminate the “LLC loophole” passed both houses, but didn’t quite have enough votes to withstand a veto by the governor. This loophole exempts small business owners from paying state income taxes. This was supposed to boost the state’s economy. However, its critics said it did not, but simply was a “free ride” for business. Burroughs said he didn’t vote for the proposal because it didn’t really address the needs of the state adequately.

Fitzgerald said that one of the reasons that the “LLC loophole” didn’t work as well as planned was because two of the state’s major industries—agriculture and oil and gas—were suffering.

In addition to the current shortfall, legislators are having to come up with a new funding formula for K-12 education. This comes after a recent decision from the Kansas Supreme Court that ruled school funding is not adequate. The court did not specify an amount, but gave the legislators until June 30 to come up with an acceptable plan. There are committees in both the Kansas House and Senate working on this formula.

Various dollar amounts have been suggested as to how much funding may be needed. They vary from $372 million to $700 million, according to Kathy Damron, a lobbyist for the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce. Fitzgerald said it may be possible for districts to draw on excessive reserves to meet this obligation. Fitzgerald acknowledged the court action. However, he said that the state spending on schools is at an all-time high.

Both Fitzgerald and Burroughs discussed the retirement fund for state employees. Both said that those presently receiving retirements are safe—that the state can’t draw on those funds. Burroughs was critical of delaying payments to the retirement fund.

Burroughs said that state employees don’t receive that much money and have not received a raise for about nine years.

There have been a couple of proposals to increase the motor fuels tax. A Kansas Senate bill would boost the tax 5 cents a gallon; the Kansas House has a proposal for an 11-cent increase. This revenue would fund work on highways. Burroughs said that about $2 billion has been taken from the Kansas Department of Transportation to shore up shortfalls in other areas. Kansas has per capita more miles of roadways than any other state.

Conservative critics such as Jeff Glendening said that the state has allowed “spending to spiral out of control.” Glendening said an efficiency report in 2016 showed how about $2 billion could be saved over a five-year period; however, these suggestions were not implemented. Glendening is the state director for Americans for Prosperity.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.

Leavenworth man sentenced to 20 years for distributing child pornography

A Leavenworth man who bragged on the Internet about sexually abusing a 4-year-old girl was sentenced Monday to 20 years in federal prison for distributing child pornography, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.

Joshua Grimm, 33, Leavenworth, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of distributing child pornography.

At sentencing, a prosecutor said the investigation started in June 2016 when Grimm began communicating with a detective in Arizona who was working undercover. In a chatroom conversation, Grimm told the detective Grimm had sexually abused a 4-year-old-girl and he sent a photo of the girl. At the time, child molestation charges were pending against Grimm.

Grimm told the detective he had “thought about kidnapping a young girl from a park or busy store.”

Beall commended the FBI, an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in Arizona and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Flannigan for their work on the case.

Leavenworth girls defeat Sumner Academy for substate championship

Sumner freshman Ayreona Carter (22) shot a short-range jump shot in the third quarter. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Photos copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel

The Sumner Academy girls’ basketball team traveled to Leavenworth on March 3 for the 5A substate final against Leavenworth High School.

Although Sumner led halfway through the first quarter based on strong inside rebounding, Leavenworth quickly established control and led through the remainder of the game, winning 61 to 35.

Sumner’s loss ended its season with an overall record of 13 wins and 7 losses. Leavenworth will move on to the state tournament in Topeka, which starts March 8.

Sumner junior Mya Allen (45) pushed the ball up the court in the first quarter. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Sumner Academy band director Paul White led the band from behind his trombone. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

The Sumner band played before the game. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

The Leavenworth JROTC color guard presented the colors before the game. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Sumner senior Samia Roark (21) looked for a shot over the defense of Leavenworth junior Aarika Lister (20). Roark had 10 points for the game, tied for the team lead. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Sumner freshman Camille Evans (11) raced up the court past Leavenworth sophomore Jailah Bowen (13). Evans had 10 points for the game. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Sumner junior Elizabeth Vaughn (30) brought the ball up the court in the second quarter. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Samia Roark went up for a layup in the second quarter. Leavenworth led 29 to 18 at halftime. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Sumner head coach Carlai Moore made an impassioned plea to her team during a timeout in the third quarter. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Sumner junior Shenice Canady (40) fought for an offensive rebound. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

The Sumner cheerleading squad encouraged the team. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Ayreona Carter fought through the defense of Aarika Lister. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Camille Evans dribbled behind the back to avoid the defense of Leavenworth sophomore Alyche Brown (11). (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Sumner junior Crystal Glinsey (35) took a mid-range jump shot over Leavenworth senior Abby Mack (42). (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Aarika Lister took a steal for a breakaway layup in the fourth quarter. Lister led Leavenworth with 20 points for the game. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)

Samia Roark split two Leavenworth defenders to drive to the basket in the fourth quarter. (Photo copyright 2017 by Brian Turrel)