Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
This week, Congress returns to Washington, D.C., to resolve issues pertaining to the federal budget. Last week, the Federal Government surpassed $16 trillion in national debt. This out-of-control borrowing and spending has very real consequences on Americans’ daily lives. When we continually fail to balance the budget, it means increasing inflation, higher interest rates, and uncertainty in the economy – resulting in less business investment and fewer jobs.
We must get a hold of our spending, yet Washington remains in a standoff when it comes to reducing our debt and restoring prosperity. It is expected that, in the coming weeks, Congress will complete work on yet another a six-month continuing resolution to keep the government running at roughly its current funding level through the elections and into next year. The continuing resolution will likely be the last major spending bill to be cleared in 2012, pushing the burden of major spending decisions to the new Congress, and perhaps a new presidential administration.
We were not elected to ignore the problems of today; we were elected to confront them. The simple truth is Congress and the White House can choose to do what Kansans do every day: make decisions – no matter how difficult – based on solid values. This is not a partisan, philosophical or academic debate; this is about the future of our country, the standard of living Americans enjoy, and whether or not there is an American dream to be lives by our kids and grandkids.
United Way of the Plains Campaign Kickoff Breakfast
On Thursday, I was in Wichita to deliver the keynote address at the United Way of the Plains Campaign Kickoff Breakfast. The morning’s theme – “Put in a hard day's work. Look after your neighbors. Serve your community.” – was on full display among the nearly 900 community members in attendance. Over the next eight weeks, United Way volunteers and staff will work hard to achieve an aggressive campaign goal of raising $15.6 million, which will be used to meet the education, income and health needs of fellow south central Kansas residents. Thursday’s breakfast was an impressive example of how Kansans step forward to take care of one another.
Congratulations to CEO Pat Hanrahan and his team for organizing an inspiring event and thank you for all they do every day to accomplish United Way’s mission “to improve lives by mobilizing resources to meet community needs.” Special thanks to John O’Leary, Vice President of Engineering at Airbus Americas, for his leadership as campaign chair. John noted in his remarks that while the last couple years have been challenging, Wichita is poised to make a comeback. “This downturn is nothing that we haven’t seen before and it’s nothing that we can’t handle.”
Speaking to the South Central Kansas Residue Alliance
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to join the South Central Kansas Residue Alliance (SCKRA) in Freeport for their most recent producer meeting. SCKRA aims to increase the knowledge of local agriculture producers in the science of residue management. Residue management practices have been documented to significantly reduce various forms of erosion and improve water quality. The alliance is working hard for the future of agriculture by preserving and protecting the land. Thanks to SCKRA for allowing me to be a part of such an educational day. Special thanks to SCKRA Chair Gene Albers, board member Terry Hodgson, and to Lyle Frees of the Natural Resources Conservation Service for being so welcoming. Finally, thanks to Jim Coady and his mom Milford Coady for hosting the event at their farm. Click here to see a photo.
Hosting Rural Broadband Roundtable with FCC Commissioner Pai
Also on Thursday, rural telephone companies joined FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and me at Labette Community College in Parsons for a roundtable discussion about the future of telecommunications in Kansas. This was Commissioner Pai’s first visit back to his hometown of Parsons in his official capacity as Commissioner.
Our discussion focused mainly on the FCC’s recent Universal Service Fund and Intercarrier Compensation reform order approved last October. The order calls for a transition from the Universal Service Fund, which had traditionally provided support for phone service, into the new Connect America Fund, a program aimed at broadband expansion. The order creates significant challenges for some telephone companies to continue telephone and broadband services to rural Kansans. Broadband is essential in today’s global economy, providing our schools, hospitals, businesses with tools to operate more efficiently and effectively.
A native of Parsons, Kansas, Ajit Pai is only the second Kansan ever to serve on the FCC and brings a unique understanding of the challenges facing rural America at a time when many important decisions about the future of telecommunications are being discussed at the Commission. From how we manage and promote more efficient use of our spectrum resources, to crafting policies that will expand broadband access to more Americans and connect more schools, libraries and hospitals, the FCC’s decisions will help define how we encourage competition, promote innovation, create jobs and drive our economy into the future.
I will continue to work with Ajit to make certaing the FCC understands rural concerns about the order and about the importance of broadband to the lives of all Kansans. Special thanks to Commissioner Pai for joining me on the visit and to Labette Community College President George Knox for arranging a meeting space for the roundtable. Click here to see a photo.
Visiting Cherryvale Middle and High School
I headed to Montgomery County to tour Cherryvale’s Middle and High School on Thursday morning, and appreciated Principal George Owens showing me their facilities and discussing the techniques they are using to teach academics and life skills. Principal Owens’ motto is “success is accomplished through practice and hard work.” Cherryvale has met their Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards every year and the strong student-to-teacher relationships were evident in the classes I visited. One of classes was the school’s nationally recognized FFA program where we discussed the recent proposed regulations by the Department of Labor to limit youth activities on farms. Thank you to the students for their kind reception and I enjoyed seeing Ms. Jo Neuburger, who has visited me several times in Washington, D.C. Click here to see a photo.
Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce First Friday Breakfast
The community of Pittsburg was enjoying their annual “Paint the Town Red” celebration when I spoke to them on Friday at the Chamber of Commerce’s monthly breakfast. This event showcases the area’s support for Pittsburg State University as they kick off their football season to defend their national championship.
At the breakfast I discussed a number of issues including education, transportation, and what is happening in Washington. I was particularly honored to be joined by Ajit Pai, Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, in discussing technology and its impact on rural America.
While in Pittsburg, I was honored to receive a personalized Pittsburg High School football jersey as appreciation for my long-time support of education, including programs like GEAR UP. Thanks to student Dakota Taylor for presenting me with the Jersey. It capped off a great morning that showcased the community’s support for Gorilla football and interest in important issues facing the area. Thank you to Blake Benson and Dr. Gina Pinamonti with the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce for inviting me, and to President Steve Scott and Shawn Naccarato at Pittsburg State University for hosting the breakfast. Click here to see a photo.
2012 Congressional Summit in Wichita
On Friday, I participated in the 2012 Congressional Summit in Wichita, hosted by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce and presented by Black & Veatch. The event gave Kansas business leaders the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas on issues impacting their business including taxes on small businesses, the implementation of the health care law, and creating long-term certainty in the regulatory environment for community businesses.
Kansas businesses have not been immune to the tough economic times, so a gathering like the Congressional Summit was a great forum for discussion of common sense solutions for private sector growth. Thank you to the event hosts including the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce and its President Gary Plummer and Chairman Walter Berry; the Kansas Chamber and President & CEO Kent Beisner; and to Paul Weida and Black and Veatch for presenting the event. Click here to see a photo.
Kansas State Fair Underway in Hutchinson
The Kansas State Fair began Friday and will continue through Sunday, September 16th. Every year, I am in Hutchinson to attend the fair and visit with some of the 350,000 people who attend. This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Kansas State Fair, which is the largest single event in our state and showcases some of the best of what Kansas has to offer.
This is the 16th consecutive year that I have a booth at the State Fair, and members of my staff are available each day of the fair to answer questions and provide information. Thanks to all those that have stopped by so far. I hope to see you and your family there at Booth #4 in the Pride of Kansas Building sometime this week!
I also had the opportunity to speak with many Kansans as I visited different booths and enjoyed the exhibits on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. These conversations are always helpful as they give me direction for what to focus on in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information about the Kansas State Fair. Click here to see a photo.
Ag Leaders Breakfast at the Kansas State Fair
While at the Kansas State Fair, I joined Governor Brownback, Senator Roberts and Congressman Huelskamp along with agriculture leaders from across the state at the annual Ag Leaders Breakfast. The breakfast was an opportunity to visit with Kansans about farming and ranching. There are many challenges facing agriculture today. With the record setting drought and the uncertainty surrounding the Farm Bill I appreciated talking with producers and getting a good dose of Kansas common sense before we head back to Washington this week. It’s vital that we make certain agriculture remains profitable so there is a next generation of farmers and ranchers in Kansas. Thanks to President Steve Baccus and the Kansas Farm Bureau for hosting this long-running event. Click here to see a photo.
Now Accepting 2012 Service Academy Applications
As summer ends and a new school year begins, I want to remind students of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, is one of my favorite duties as a Member of Congress.
To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by October 1, 2012. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below.
University of Kansas
Jeff Chafin of Lawrence
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including:
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,
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