Monday, July 16, 2018

Meet Carl Brewer - Democrat for Governor

Kevin Surbaugh

Baldwin City Gazette: Would you make any changes to Kansas' state taxes? What would those specific changes be and why?
Former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer is a Democratic Candidate for Governor.
Carl Brewer (File Photo)

Carl Brewer: Kansas needs to restructure our tax system to make it fair to all residents, with the ultimate goal of eliminating the tax on food.

Gazette: While high school graduation rates have risen above 80 percent in recent years, college readiness rates remain much lower. Fewer than half of graduating seniors leave high school on track to earn even a “C” in college courses. And about 40% of those who enroll in college are placed in remedial courses. This means a huge percentage of high school diplomas handed out every year are empty promises. What will you do to close this college and career readiness gap in your state? And what will you do to ensure parents get more honest information about their children’s readiness for success after high school?

Brewer: We have to start by making sure children have adequate education in their early years. If you don’t start them out on the right path by kindergarten, they’re going to be behind. We need to create the opportunity for every child to attend preschool. We must ensure Kansas students are proficient in such basics as reading math, but also that they leave high school prepared to go to college if they choose to. This means adequately funding our schools and our teachers which creates the necessary environment to recruit talented individuals with the skills and passion to teach our children.

Gazette: What do you think will be your biggest obstacle in accomplishing your goals as governor, and how do you plan to address that obstacle?

Brewer: In today’s climate in our state created by Brownback, the hard part will be repairing the financial structure to get Kansas back into the the black. We need to deal with our obligation to return money that’s been taken from KPERS and the Transportation fund. We need to make sure funding for education is more than just the bare minimum.

There is also the issue of transparency. There is much resistance at the capitol to allow the public to know what really is happening, to know who is voting for what. As mayors, both my running mate and I have successfully increased transparency in the cities we led and will work to make sure the public is aware of how their leaders are voting and spending their money.

Gazette: Should Kansas raise the minimum-wage? What is a fair wage?

Brewer: Yes. At a minimum, we should catch up to our neighbors of Colorado and get our minimum wage to above $10. Then we should create a review process every 2 years to make sure we’re keeping up with the cost of living increase.

Gazette: How would you address education funding?

Brewer: We need to start out by defining what we want and what we need. Then we have to calculate what’s a fair wage to pay teachers so that we’re getting qualified educators for our children. From that, we determine what the cost will be,and create a 10-year plan on how we will reach those goals. And the public will be aware of how we are working to fix the problem by establishing milestones so people can see when we’re being successful and when we’re failing - and if we’re failing, they’ll know what we’re going to do to fix it. This review needs to be done on a regular basis, something closer to every 6 months. Once a year isn’t enough for our children.

Funding our public education requires new solutions. Let’s start by legalizing marijuana, taxing it, and using that revenue to fund our schools.

Gazette: If you do not win the Democratic nomination, what are your plans in terms of ensuring the Republican Candidate does not win the election?
Brewer: This isn’t about getting a Democrat into office, it’s about getting the right person into office to lead our state and give fair, true representation to everyone. Obviously, neither Kobach nor Colyer is the right person. I would support whichever Democrat won the primary.

Gazette: Do you believe marijuana should be legalized in some form? If so, what conditions would you include? To date, seven states have passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana and in the state of Colorado, $135 million in taxes and fees flowed into the state budget in just one year. On the surface these changes make financial sense, and would decriminalize common teenager behavior. Do you support the legalization of marijuana for recreation? Or medical use?
Brewer: It is time to legalize and tax the production, sale, and personal use of medicinal and recreational marijuana in Kansas. And if legislators aren’t brave enough to legalize it, then we should put it on the ballot and let the citizens decide.

Kansas could solve its budget problems if this were to become law.  We could even eliminate the sales tax on food and prescription drugs and keep other traditional sources of tax revenue at modest levels. Kansas would have to be careful implementing such a policy. We need to study how other states have successfully drafted their laws.

Gazette: What place do guns have in your state’s schools? Do you support arming teachers and school staff? Should parents and visitors with concealed carry permits be allowed to bring their guns onto school grounds and into classrooms?
Brewer: Schools are meant for education not guns. In my 21 years of military service, I was trained how to safely use high-powered automatic weapons. I know the damage they can cause. So when it comes to our schools, teachers should not be armed, students should not be armed, and parents should not be armed. The right protection would be putting trained SRO’s in our schools who could also provide counseling when needed.

Gazette: Why should the people of Kansas vote for you?
Brewer: People should vote for me because I, along with my running mate Chris Morrow, is the best ticket to beat Kris Kobach. Our Secretary of State continues to create a hostile environment of inequality, corruption and embarrassment to our state. It’s time for change and we are the ones who can bring it, just as I did for Wichita and as Chris did for Gardner. Not only was I elected mayor of the largest city in the state of Kansas, and a conservative one at that, I led it through the worst of the recession to then win reelection with 69% of the vote.

Gazette: It is 2030 and you have served two terms as governor of Kansas. What are people saying about your legacy? What are your biggest concrete accomplishments?

Brewer: I would want people to have witnessed how I and my Lieutenant Governor worked closely together to grow our economy and diversify our industries. The people would have recognized that we embraced diversity and all the voices from across our state. Everyone could see that they were part of the fabric of Kansas, a state that serves to be an example for the rest of the nation.

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