When my kids were little, they’d come running when they fell off the swing set. We’d put a Band-Aid on their scraped knee and everything would be fixed.

The state has tried that same approach for years — putting a Band-Aid on budget problems, hoping it would get better. Band-Aids might work for a scraped knee or two, but we know they don’t work for gaping fiscal problems like the ones our state has faced in recent years.

Just as my kids have gotten too old for Band-Aids, the Band-Aid approach has gotten old for Kansans.

Kansans have grown weary of budget gimmicks that simply kick the can down the road; weary of courtroom battles that divert funding away from critical services like mental health and foster care; and weary of government intrusion that makes it harder for job creators and working Kansans to get ahead.

When the Legislature returns in a few weeks, lawmakers must get beyond the Band-Aid fixes and bureaucrat-driven approach. Instead, we must be disciplined enough to work together and form the long-term solutions our families deserve. That includes:

• Ensuring fiscal responsibility so all parts of our state can flourish, not just a select few chosen by court litigation or political elites. Rushing to spend millions on new programs instead of funding proven economic drivers — such as a highway and infrastructure plan — will do more than just grow government. It will inevitably lead to calls for Kansans to send more of their hard-earned money to Topeka, reducing the financial strength of our families and our communities.

• Setting the tone for civil discourse so all Kansans have a voice, not just those who pad the pockets of politicians. We helped change the course of politics last year by banning anonymous bills and increasing transparency. This year, we’ve invited our colleagues to embrace civil discourse with training designed to break down barriers so the legislative process can be about solutions, not election-year slogans.

• Growing jobs instead of growing government so our next generation can afford to call Kansas home. Making sure government stays out of the way and reducing barriers for the private sector will allow job creators and entrepreneurs to thrive. Doing the right thing creates a circle that encourages hard work, ingenuity and economic growth. That growth will bring more jobs and resources into our state without treating taxpayers like an ATM.

Republicans want to build a state where jobs are stable, good-paying and available in every community — from Mission to Meade.

Others want to create a system where Kansans who fall behind can become dependent on the state for the rest of their lives. Without a path to self-sufficiency, these individuals can wind up trapped in a cycle of dependence, where their ability to feed their families depends on checking boxes for a bureaucrat, rather than their own determination.

Our vision for the future is just the opposite. It’s a vision of a Kansas where everyone who wants a job can find one, and every Kansan who falls on hard times can get a hand up, not a handout.

House Republicans look forward to working together this session to put an end to the Band-Aid fixes and make the future brighter for all Kansans.

 

Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr., R-Olathe, is speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives.