Another session has begun, and it looks to be even more of a challenge than last year.For me personally, last year was very difficult as I suffered and continue to suffer from a frozen shoulder.
Another session has begun, and it looks to be even more of a challenge than last year.For me personally, last year was very difficult as I suffered and continue to suffer from a frozen shoulder. Most people have not heard of such a thing unless they or someone close to them has personally experienced it. I have given birth to two children and had two shoulder surgeries, but these do not compare to the pain of a frozen shoulder. What is different is that with childbirth and surgeries, the pain is short-term and progresses to a better level day by day. With a frozen shoulder, it is a protracted journey where the pain level is variable and relentless; but, thankfully, through rehabilitation, the condition does improve. Why am I sharing this with you? Because as I have continued through my journey, it feels analogous to the recession we are going through. Two years ago, we were watching the effects of the national recession but still not feeling the impact here at home. Because we are dependent on manufacturing, particularly aviation — which makes up more than 22 percent of our state’s revenues — the impact hit us later, but in some ways it has been more severe. This recession appears to be the hardest we have seen in many years. More recent cycles lasted only a year or two. Recovery from this recession will take more time, but the solution for recovery is the same: Get the private sector back on its feet and prosperous once again. Similarly, recovery from my frozen shoulder involved physical therapy that was painful but necessary. So, after a difficult session last year, marked by deep budget cuts, we again are forced to decide whether to cut more, tax more, rearrange the tax structure or re-invent how we provide government services. Many ideas will come forward and move through the legislative process; any solution likely will be a combination of options. Some have suggested we just raise taxes to solve the problem, but I am not sure this is the best approach given the loss of revenue many businesses already have had to offset by cutting jobs and lowering investment. Regardless, we must proceed with open minds and look at solutions that will help us get out of this recession and make our economy stronger in the future, so we will be able to fund the necessary public services. Right now, many people are going through pain, particularly those needing physical, developmental and mental health services, not to mention home community-based services and now cuts in Medicaid. Many agencies have taken cuts of more than 50 percent. Our schools, too, have taken a cut of 1.8 percent (all funding sources). In order to preserve these vital services, we may have to change the way we do government, but we cannot lose sight of the people and families they serve and the contribution they make to our state’s economy and workforce. In the past, many of you received an annual newsletter from me that covered the previous session and highlighted what to look for in the next year. To send this to all registered voters, it costs me a significant amount for printing and postage. The state allows me a very small percentage for postage, and I pay the rest out of my campaign finance fund. Due to our budget difficulties, I am not going to send this update and instead invite you to go to my Web site as of this Wednesday. You may access my Web site at www.workingforkansas.com to connect with important information. Next time, I will share with you some proposed rules and regulation changes being promoted by the EPA, as well as new information on prescribed burning in the Flint Hills — two issues that will have major impacts to our region and state if we do not pay attention to them. Best wishes in the coming year. I look forward to working with you to find innovative solutions for our state during these challenging times. Sen. Carolyn McGinn represents the 31st District in the Kansas Senate. She can be contacted at (785) 296-7377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.