February 28, 2016
A group called Restore Kansas wants lawmakers to stop budget cuts and then restore funding to areas cut in recent years.
The group formed in December when some guardians of Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities decided the state needed a group to pull together individuals and organizations that are negatively affected by budget cuts.
The group specifically wants funding restored for what it calls vulnerable Kansans: school-age children, people without access to health care, underemployed and working families, people with disabilities, seniors and people who need mental health services.
“We need to show compassion for others, because you never know when you’ll be in that position,” said Aldona Carney, a Wichita mother of a 21-year-old son who has severe autism. “And I really believe that’s what’s happening in Kansas is a lack of compassion.”
The short-term goal: Prevent further budget cuts.
The long-term goal: Restore funding to programs that have been cut over the past few years.
Restore Kansas will host a meet-and-greet event from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of the Wichita Public Library, 223 S. Main.
The group says it hopes to garner more organizational and individual supporters from the meet and greet. The group’s logo is an upside-down Kansas flag to signify distress.
The groups involved thus far are the League of Women Voters, Women for Kansas, the Advocates Community Team of South Central Kansas, Senior Services Inc., Sunflower Community Action, the Arc of Sedgwick County, Starkey, Companion Ministries and Interhab.
The meet and greet will allow individuals and organizations to learn more about Restore Kansas before the group’s rally, scheduled for 6:30 to 8 p.m. on March 23 at the Mid-America All-Indian Center, 650 N. Seneca.
The rally will feature speakers on four topics.
▪ A nonpartisan group called the Kansas Center for Economic Growth will present an overview of the Kansas budget but does not endorse the group’s efforts, given its nonpartisan designation.
▪ A woman will talk about her struggles as she’s waited to receive Medicaid disability coverage for her daughter, who has autism.
▪ A Wichita State University graduate teaching assistant will talk about the barriers to teaching in Kansas because of fear of prosecution for teaching about controversial topics.
▪ A health care representative will speak about the economic and social effects of not expanding Medicaid.
Among the issues concerning Restore Kansas: meals and other support for seniors to keep them in their homes; disabled Kansans who sit on waiting lists for services and employment, which would aid their independence and community engagement; and fair, equitable funding for schools.
Restore Kansas will meet at 4:30 p.m. every Monday at Starkey’s administrative building, 144 S. Young, until the March 23 event.