(Video Courtesy KPTS)
State Senator, Bachelors from Bradly University, Masters from Indiana University
Position on the Kansas Budget:
The Brownback experiment wrecked our state’s budget, leading to cuts to our schools, roads and public safety. I led the bipartisan effort to end the Brownback experiment and put our state on the road to recovery. Due to our bipartisan work, we are able to balance our budget for the coming years with no new taxes. But there is still much work left to do.
As governor, I will stabilize the budget and manage it in a way that reflects our priorities as Kansans – great public schools, strong infrastructure and affordable healthcare. Once the budget is stable, I will focus on cutting the sales tax on food. This will mean more money in your pocket and more food on the table.
Position on School Funding:
My first priority as governor will be to address the Kansas Supreme Court ruling and make sure our schools are constitutionally funded. Then, instead of focusing on doing the minimum, we will begin to plan and innovate. We will make sure Kansas has the best schools in the nation so our children can be ready for the jobs of the future.
I have a vision of education that spans from early childhood to K-12 to college to the workforce. Each step is critical to the success of our children and the strength of our economy. I will also work with educators and experts to set a strategy to address the statewide teacher shortage and improve pay for educators. In addition to fully funding our K-12 schools, we will expand early childhood programs so we can put kids on the path to success early on. I will also focus on improving our higher education system, including technical or trade schools and job training programs.
Position on Economy & Taxes:
A stable, balanced state budget is essential to a growing economy – as we’ve seen in the last 15 months since we ended the Brownback tax experiment. It is also critical to providing real tax relief for working men and women and their families. That’s why once the state’s finances have fully stabilized, the first order of business will be to reduce the sales tax on food.
In order to grow our economy, we must invest in higher education, including technical and career education, and job training programs so that all graduates in Kansas have the skills needed to enter the workforce prepared. We will also help connect businesses, schools and students to ensure we are training students for the jobs that are available. In addition, we will invest in infrastructure (roads and digital) and supporting new industries that leverage our state’s strengths to help us grow.
Position on Health Care:
I have consistently supported expanding Medicaid to provide affordable health coverage to more Kansas families and support to our healthcare facilities. It will grow the Kansas economy and create thousands of good paying jobs in the process. As governor, I will advocate for and sign legislation to expand Medicaid in my first year.
I will also reform the KanCare program to ensure that our healthcare system is putting people first, not profit. Privatizing KanCare to out-of-state insurance companies has been a mess since the beginning. I will work with health leaders, advocates, and experts to fix our Medicaid system and find the plan that best meets the needs of Kansans, and provides increased oversight and accountability.
Position on Immigration:
It’s clear that our federal immigration system is broken and we need Washington to finally step up to fix it. I will push for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level that ensures our borders are secure and our families are safe – while meeting the needs of the Kansas economy and agricultural community.
Highest Priority Issue in Office:
During the last eight years, our schools have been devastated by the Brownback tax experiment. That’s why it is absolutely critical that we elect a governor who will make schools a top priority. It has been my lifelong mission to support our students and ensure they have the tools necessary to succeed. As governor, I will invest in our schools, with an emphasis on early childhood programs, to put children on the right path early on and keep them there. I will work with teachers, administrators, parents and other experts to set goals and fully fund our schools. This will benefit our communities and businesses alike.
What needs to change in our state government?
As governor, I will improve transparency of state government and agencies. Far too many decisions in recent years were made behind closed doors with very little accountability to the public. That’s why I presented a plan in February last year to increase transparency. Notably, we will eliminate “no-bid” contracts. Right now, $428 million in taxes are spent on contracts that had no competitive bidding process and very little oversight. We must increase accountability to our bidding process to ensure tax dollars are used responsibly and efficiently.