Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kansas Resettlement 101

I began to research this topic in earnest very recently and was alarmed by the information I found. I also discovered that my state brings in thousands of immigrants and refugees yearly. Kansas is not a wealthy state to begin with. Our employment is low while our sales taxes have been raised. Though this is a Republican-leaning state, the native grass roots constituents are not being served - and I might add, by either party.

This recent news article raised so many questions, so I decided to dig deeper. I was dismayed by what I found. The objective of this blog is to put all the information in one place for other people who are interested in this issue.

Earlier this year, Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in an attempt to balance a massive state deficit caused by his economic policy, cut nearly $45 million for public schools and higher education.

More than half of the money was be taken from funding for K-12 schools. The cut also affected Kansas colleges and universities.

Brownback spent his first term slashing taxes for the rich, promising it would lead to boom times for everyone else. Instead a higher sales tax was imposed on everyone else.

Teachers left our state and many schools were permanently closed. Still others cut their hours.

But then, about a week ago, Brownback's administration approved spending $4.2 million for school districts to cover "extraordinary needs." What kind of needs? As an example - $366,804 to help Wichita schools absorb an influx of refugee children. The State Finance Council had originally asked for $980,00 to cover the costs of refugees (additional teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors and specialized English language specialists).

Wichita is seeing more of an influx of refugees, primarily from war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East, because there are two social service agencies there that work specifically to relocate refugee populations.

The two agencies are the Episcopal Wichita Area Refugee Ministries and the International Rescue Committee in Wichita. Both received allocations and are actively relocating refugees to Wichita.

So, Kansas will receive money for refugee children and their families..... while native children and students are shunted aside? And where will all that extra sales tax money go anyway. I have lots of questions.

The first thing I learned during my research was that Sam Brownback was active in pro-immigration legislation while in the U.S. Senate. In 2005, Brownback broke with many of his Republican allies by voting for a bill that gives a path to citizenship to 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. He was one of just four Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to join Democrats in supporting the measure.

From Wikipedia: "Brownback has a voting record that has tended to support higher legal immigration levels and strong refugee protection. Brownback was cosponsor of a 2005 bill of Ted Kennedy and John McCain, which would have created a legal path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. On June 26, 2007, Brownback voted in favor of S. 1639, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act.

Curiouser and curiouser....

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