Recently, Governor Sebelius announced a plan
to provide $575 million for needed repairs at Kansas' two state universities. Why the cost of these repairs is not already included in the operating budgets of KU and KSU is beyond me, but apparently both schools have buildings in serious need of repair.
Sebelius' plan involves raising the tolls on I-70 and I-35, the first time that monies collected from highway tolls would be used for something other than highway maintenance. While the toll roads in Kansas are nowhere near the tragedy that we find in Oklahoma, there is always room for more repairs.
The real problem with this idea is that it's trying to give Sebelius a great line for next year's State of the State Address without the negative perceptual impact of raising taxes or student tuition. And if the GOP-dominated legislature had for some reason gone for this plan, it would have been a great resume line for a potential VP candidate. Almost $600 million in repairs without raising taxes or tuition. The only problem is that the idea was another example of somebody getting a case of the clevers and letting their artful political ploy get in the way of one of the core Democratic values:
Democrats believe in good governance.
And that means doing the right thing for Kansas drivers and
Kansas Universities, even if it means a temporary hit at the polls. Being a Democratic governor of a "red" state with an approval rating over 70% is a better resume line anyway.
Heading west and south from here to the only governor
running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bill Richardson has been spending some time in Darfur, Sudan, negotiating
with both Sudan's president and rebel leaders. He's having some mixed results, unfortunately, announcing a 60-day cease-fire only to see the rebels deny they agreed to anything. But at least Richardson is there trying to do something, and he was able to get access that so far has been denied to the UN. I expect Richardson to get an actual, enforced agreement between the two sides before the week is out - I've left myself a reminder for Sunday morning to check back on that if for some reason I haven't seen anything by then.
This shows the depth and seriousness of the Democratic field for 2008. John Edwards is running a substantive campaign that's addressing our society's structrual problems. Bill Richardson is still gearing his candidacy up, but has managed to accomplish more positive foreign policy goals as a governor than Bush has as a president and has shown an ability to "reach across the aisle" by having a popularity in his "red" state rivaling Sebelius and Janet Napolitano.
The GOP field, on the other hand, features an increasingly out-of-control John McCain, Rudy Guiliani who would get stomped by Hillary Clinton in New York City itself, Mitt Romney who, unfortunately for him, views homosexuals as human beings, and Huckleberry Hound, er, Mike Huckabee, the former Baptist preacher, governor and current weight-loss guru.
The American public, of course, cannot be predicted, but things look pretty good at this point.