Monday, July 16, 2018

Meet Jim Barnett, Republican for Governor

Kevin Surbaugh

Jim Barnett, along with his running mate Rosie Hansen recently stopped in Baldwin City and spoke with the editorial board of the Baldwin City Gazette. The Barnett campaign has been endorsed by MainPac and Kansas Traditional Republicans for Common Sense.

Baldwin City Gazette: Would you make any changes to Kansas' state taxes? What would those specific changes be and why?

Jim Barnett: Yes, I would. first of all whats really most important of the bigger picture we gotta balance the budget I know taxes and spending are important issues but the really bigger question is in Kansas we have basically eaten all our seed corn. We have lived month to month. Paycheck to paycheck, and actually worse than that, we are living on credit card debt. For example, what we are doing for our highways to bond monies at interest only for twenty years. Interest only payments for twenty-years.
The Barnett and Hansen ticket discuss issues with the Baldwin City Gazette.
Jim Barnett and Rosie Hansen
stop in Baldwin City to talk with the
Gazette editorial board.
Kevin Surbaugh
Since 2010 actually with the Brownback-Colyer administration we have bonded over $1.3 billion. So we need to put some money back in the bank and invest. That's the only way we are going to grow. Tax policy in general, I do not like sales tax on food. It's the most burdensome tax, particularly for those that struggle with income. I think that if there is any tax adjustment that is necessary, it would be at the level of internet sales tax to help support brick and mortar people along main streets across the state to make it fair and equitable.
Property tax, we want to hold down. I don't want any increases in property tax at the state level.

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?

Barnett: It is unacceptable where we are right now. Clearly unacceptable and we actually were just looking at that data last evening. So that's broken down in many different ways, why some children don't succeed. It's especially high in poverty. So social economics play a huge role here. Those children need extra help to bring themselves up. So one of our focuses in the campaign goes back to very early childhood and preparation learning. If children aren't caught up to speed by the time they get into Kindergarten, if they aren't ready for Kindergarten, they're likely to fail. So if we are going to address this longterm, it goes back to very early childhood learning experiences. So many children now, grow up in homes where they're not fed, they're neglected, their not read to, they come to school, they don't know the color blue. Then, of course, it becomes the teacher's fault that they don't learn. So that is where that has to be addressed, and it's going to take time to do that and we would save so much money. To your point, we would save so much money, if we invested there. Pay a little more there and a whole lot less later.

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?

Barnett: I think the biggest obstacle is real economic growth. That is the greatest challenge for the next Governor. If we can't get this state's economy growing, we're all sunk. We aren't going to have enough money for roads or schools and healthcare. The key is to economic development. That would be the answer to your question. Number one, we ask businesses what they need to succeed, over and over, workforce, workforce training, infrastructure, healthcare, education, quality of life issues, those are the main keys that businesses are looking for to succeed. In the last seven years with Brownback and Colyer, with the tax experiment, we have put all our eggs in one basket. Zeroing out taxes for a certain few and letting the rest go. So the first thing is to restore those basic elements, which will take time.
The second thing is this, our state is very different regionally. This part of the state is much different than Johnson County, much different than southeast Kansas, much different than southwest Kansas, much different than central. So we need a Governor that recognizes that our state is different regionally, and we haven't approached economic development in that way since Bill Graves was Governor. Respecting local control. Ninety-five percent of economic development is local. Example of where that goes wrong is Tonganoxie. That chicken plant brought in behind closed doors. People erupted and the project failed.
The third key is we are more than just ag, oil, and aviation. We are going to look at all the regions and look at their assets. The last issue is this, we need a new relationship between business and education so that business can go to education and say here is the workforce we need. Education should be going to business and asking what do you need for a trained workforce so we can turn your economy. Those will be the challenges and how we address it.

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

Barnett: I want everyone to have a wage that can support them, and their minimum needs for living. The wage in Kansas is a great question. It varies a little bit, but it's probably in the range of 14 to 15 dollars an hour, and it depends on if it's you or if you have a family to support. Now Kansas is a unique state in many ways, so I don't see a minimum wage coming about to that in this state. So the real answer is getting better-paying jobs to Kansas, which goes back to economic growth.

Gazette: How would you address education funding?

Barnett: That's the most challenging funding question I think we have short term. I have read the eighty pages of Gannon (Gannon v Kansas), the court case, I reviewed the history when in 2014 legislature, wrote into law, what it calls "Rose capacities," and called them, standards. They're not standards at all. They come from the 1980's in Kentucky. They're like your emotional. Well then, you should know your physical health. You can't measure those, but the legislature put those into law. The Governor signed it and ask the State Board of Education to develop a plan to reach it. They did. They said it is $892 million. So last year the state put in $292 million, subtract that off  893 and six hundred million. So I think that's a ballpark figure for what it takes to get out of court.
You know, if you don't like the court decision, you don't thumb your nose at it. You get a speeding ticket, you probably generally pay that. So we need to get out of court, but we have got to stay out of court because we are sending a message to young people that we don't value teachers. That we don't value education. We talked teacher after teacher, who tell their own children, 'Don't go into education, the economics don't make sense and the state has lost respect for education.' So, it's not only funding, but it is also changing the narrative that we value teachers and that we value education.  That is an important area for the Governor and Lieutenant Governor to change.

Gazette:   If you do not win the Republican nomination, what are your plans in terms of ensuring the Democratic Candidate does not win the election?

Barnett: That's a great question and ultimately that's up to the voters. I think through the process of this campaign, the best thing we can do is talk about ideas and to contrast ourselves to other candidates, so that voters can be better informed. Frankly, that's why we are here today, and why we so appreciate you giving us this time and this such a sweet setting, to get to interview in.

Gazette:   In addition to the Libertarian candidate, we have Greg Orman, what do you think he will do to the mix?

 Barnett: My crystal ball broke. I used to tell my patients a long time ago, my crystal ball broke. I kinda see Greg Orman and the Democratic nominee, kinda washing each other out, to some extent. Again my crystal ball broke, but I think that it makes it more likely that the Republican nominee will be the states next Governor.

GazetteDo 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 just medical use?

Barnett: You know that is a well-written question and we hear this issue a lot on the campaign trail.  Early on.
So first of all, I am going to talk just a little bit about hemp. You know I really support agriculture hemp and it's probably our states answer to stepping into this answer. Which, is a challenging answer.
Agricultural hemp brings new agriculture products, uses less water, and has economic opportunity, there, going back to your tax question. Next question, really is medicinal marijuana and I will look at any bill that comes across my desk on an evidence-based approach. I think that is probably the closest thing, that this state is ready to start looking at.
Now the real question is the legalization for fully or recreational use. I think the answers are still out there because talk to a lot of people in a lot of different walks of life, that raise positives and negatives. Tax revenues yes, but negatives on the downside there. Social issues and homelessness, etc and traffic safety issues too, with our fatality rates being up in Kansas and the thought some of that is coming from Colorado. So I think the evidence is still out on that, and I would like to look at that before I would answer that. Again I want to come back to the position, that I would look at any bill on an evidence-based approach.

Gazette: What place do guns have in Kansas 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?

Barnett: First of all, I support the second amendment and the right to self-protection. I don't support arming teachers as a solution. I think the laws are such, where guns may or may not be permitted that we don't need to open that chapter or book again. We have so many other things that need our attention right now. Like balancing our budget. The laws are such now, that teachers can carry their weapons concealed in schools right now. I would think in those settings, you would want those individuals to be trained. To know how to properly use such a weapon. In general, I don't support giving cash bonuses to teachers as has been proposed by Secretary Kobach and Governor Colyer.
I think the real challenge for the next Governor, for school safety, comes to restoring and rebuilding a functioning mental health system. We have seen during the Brownback-Colyer years a systematic dismantling of mental health care and now it's in schools, our jails, our emergency rooms, it's on our streets, and it's in our homeless shelters. That's really not what Kansas is about. Those are not values that Kansas represent to Rosie and me.

Gazette: Why should the people of Kansas vote you?

Barnett: You know, we've got to pivot as a state. Kansas has come down in the last seven years. It's not the state we used to know it. The amount of poverty around Kansas is astounding and frankly disheartening. We have a generational failure now of the families, generational poverty, behavioral health issues, and substance abuse. We have again seen, living month to month, paycheck to paycheck, institutionalizing Kansas during the Brownback-Colyer tax experiment failure. If we do not invest in this state our highways, our hospitals, our mental health facilities, take care of those in need, we are never going to know Kansas the way we used to know it. We are the only Republican candidate, Governor and Lieutenant Governor who are saying that and willing to make those hard decisions. That's why Kansas will be better off with Barnett-Hansen ticket.

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?

Barnett: First of all I believe in term-limits, I know the Governor's office is term-limited and it should be, but I believe in term-limits in general. I have supported them all alone and I self-imposed those on the school board and in the Kansas Senate as well.
Two things! Number one, turn the state's economy around, we have the potential to so much better. In so many ways. Economic growth and not being a flyover state and being a state where people want to come to, live and raise, their family.  Number one is to turn the state's economy around and we can do that. Number two is to crack the nut about generational poverty and generational failure of the family. We can do that too, by investing in early childhood learning. Making that a robust program. It's a public-private program, with schools, and communities where they want it and need it.  It's needed across the state. But that's what gives me tingles, to break this generational failure that has swept across Kansas.

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