Monday, July 16, 2018

Meet Josh Svaty - 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?

Josh Svaty: The first matter to be addressed during the next round of tax changes will be to reduce and eventually repeal be the State's sales tax on food. Recent Legislatures have failed to take this matter seriously enough. Kansas is among the worst states in the country for its treatment of sales taxes on food. The chief benefits would be for those who are often forgotten during tax debates: the working class voters and older citizens living on fixed incomes.
Josh Svaty

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?

Svaty: I do not agree that a huge percentage of our high school diplomas are empty promises. Thousands of Kansas teachers are among the finest in the nation, and we should be thankful for that. Nevertheless, I and all educators will readily agree we must do better, from developing ways for stronger family engagement in the learning process, to constantly revising and improving our curricula and our teaching techniques to make our graduates more ready to move on after high school. Likewise, our higher education system should always be employed as educational resources for our K-12 systems. It is still the case that our higher education system (Regents Universities, Community Colleges, and Technical Colleges) offer the surest paths for our students' future economic opportunities.

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?

Svaty: Chief among many obstacles facing the next Governor are these:
To restore Kansas reputation as a great place to live, work and expand businesses I will champion a return to our tradition of being a welcoming home for diversity. I will restore Sebelius-era employment protections for the LGBTQ state civil service workforce (which was repealed by Governor Brownback), and I will embrace workers who come to our country to make an economically secure life for their families;
To restore financial stability to our State, I will return to a stable and predictable revenue model in which sales, income and property taxes shoulder relatively equal shares of a load of government financing. We have seen in recent years, and we cannot continue the trend, that the lack of a reliable and defensible revenue approach impairs our ability to adequately plan and pay for necessary government expenditures most notably education, infrastructure and social services.
To restore the lost expertise and experience in our state agencies, the next Administration must value, respect and retain its professional workforce. We cannot take for granted the talent and expertise of our state employees. Whether it is the expertise needed to monitor our water quality and water supplies or the highly skilled social work professionals who assist foster children in our state, every state agency plays an important role and should be staffed with quality workers who know how to maximize the uses of tax dollars for important state purposes.

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

Svaty: My administration would support raises in the minimum wage at the Federal level, which is more broadly applicable than the state's minimum wage law, and I would respect the rights of local communities to adopt fair wages or prevailing wages in their own communities.
Gazette: How would you address education funding?
Svaty: As referenced above, our revenue picture was greatly damaged by the reckless financial policies of the current administration. The damage cannot be immediately fixed, but we can do a far better job of funding schools in these two ways: steady progress in funding levels must be made each year if we are to sustain a pool of excellent and well-qualified teachers, and such increases will be needed to satisfy the court's concerns; secondly, our school leaders and school boards can more efficiently utilize tax resources if the planning and financing of schools is timely accomplished. We cannot delay school finance decisions coming late each session as the last budget consideration. We need to settle school financing earlier in each legislation session, so schools can adequately plan staffing and programming decisions each year.

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?

Svaty: I will confidently and enthusiastically support the Democratic candidate for Governor.
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?
Svaty: Yes, I will support the legalization of medical uses of marijuana as well as any effort to de-criminalize recreational uses. Criminal penalties are costly and can be unjustly applied, and revenues for the State would be welcomed.

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?

Svaty: I do not support guns in our schools, except for official law enforcement personnel. I do not support the introduction of armed teachers in our classrooms, nor do I support current laws which allow concealed carry in our schools.

Gazette: Why should the people of Kansas vote for you?

Svaty: I am a fifth generation Kansas family who came here to help build this state. I am the father of 4 children to whom I hope to pass along the same opportunities my generation has enjoyed. For this to happen, we need to renew our commitment to positive and optimistic Kansas values; we need to restore our reputation as a national leader in education, natural resource protection, and food production, and as a home for economic entrepreneurs. This is how we will relaunch our economy to generate good jobs for young people coming out of school. I have the business, legislative and administrative experience to understand and appreciate the roles all Kansans communities can play in restoring a vital Kansas economy, and I have experienced the tremendous energy in both the urban and rural regions of our state. I can confidently communicate with and attract Kansans from every community back to the table to get our state moving again.

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?

Svaty: I want Kansans to be proudly telling others around the country that they live in Kansas. I want the rest of the nation to know that Kansas is a state that cares about, believes in, and honors every one of its citizens. I want young people and businesses to be moving to Kansas because of its quality of life - to its rural areas because they can access everything they would need to work and play, and to its cities because they are designed for the future, but in engineering and in available green space and outdoor recreation. I want Kansas to be a technology leader in our core economic areas, particularly agriculture, health, energy, and the biosciences.

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