Monday, July 16, 2018

Meet Laura Kelly - Democrat for Governor

Kevin Surbaugh

Senator Laura Kelly is endorsed by Senator Tom Holland and former Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

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

Senator Laura Kelly
Laura Kelly (file photo)
Laura Kelly:The failed Brownback tax experiment severely damaged our state, decimated our schools and hurt our communities. It resulted in our tax system being completely out of balance. I lead the bipartisan effort to reverse the tax experiment so we could once again invest in our schools, roads and growing our economy. I will work to reestablish the balance between property, sales and income taxes.

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?

Kelly: I have a vision of education that spans from early childhood to K-12 to college to the workforce. Because every step along the way is important: a chance for Kansas to do right by our kids and their parents – or to let them down. If we invest early and keep kids on the right track, we can help them be better prepared for college or technical education. Fully funding our K-12 schools, as well as investing in early childhood education, will improve college readiness.

I’m a strong supporter of higher education, including technical and trade schools, and job training programs. I will focus on promoting partnerships to ensure businesses can find the trained workers they need in their industry and schools are providing the skills training needed. That means investing in high school technical programs, community college certification programs, and college and university tuition relief.

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?

Kelly: Getting things done as governor requires a good working relationship with the legislature. I have a reputation as someone willing to work with anyone to get things done for the people of Kansas. As governor, I will always put the best interests of Kansas families first.

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

Kelly: Yes. I have supported increasing the minimum wage several times. A recent study showed that a full-time minimum wage job does not provide enough to rent an apartment in any state. That is wrong.

Gazette: How would you address education funding?

Kelly: The Kansas Supreme Court ruled recently that changes to the funding formula for schools - which I supported - were constitutional. This will ensure that money is distributed more fairly. However, the legislature and the new governor must still adjust funding for inflation this coming year. I will encourage that change to be made quickly.

As governor, I will work with teachers, administrators, parents and other experts to set goals and fully fund our schools. Instead of focusing on doing the minimum, we will begin to plan and innovate. We will make sure Kansas has the best school in the nation so our children can be ready for the jobs of the future. And I will use my budget expertise to ensure Kansas can continue to meet the needs of our students in the years to come.

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?

Kelly: If I am not the Democratic nominee, I will put Kansas families first and work to  elect someone who will fight for our families and our shared priorities - like schools and healthcare.

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?

Kelly: Just this year, Kansas started to make progress on this issue. The next step will be to legalize medicinal marijuana, and I’m confident this can be done next year. But, because of the composition of the Senate, it's not realistic to promise that we will legalize recreational marijuana any time soon.

We also need to look at marijuana as a criminal justice issue. Far too many people are facing incarceration for first time, nonviolent drug offenses, which is not a smart use of taxpayer dollars. As governor, I will work with the legislature to find a solution that works for Kansas.

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?

Kelly: More guns in our schools is never the answer. That’s why I voted to keep guns off our college campuses, as well as public hospitals and mental health centers. I also supported a bill that allows law enforcement to take guns away from individuals found to be a threat to others. It’s also essential that we increase mental health services available to Kansas students.

As Governor, I will bring everyone together – law enforcement officials, school officials, mental and public health experts and parents – to find common ground and meaningful solutions to this problem.

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

Kelly: It has been my lifelong mission to do right by Kansas kids and families. During my career and my time in the Senate, I worked to improve our schools, healthcare and economy to make Kansas a better place to live.

I led efforts to expand early childhood education by doubling the number of kids able to enter kindergarten ready to learn. And I have been recognized for my strong support of Kansas public schools.

Last year, I helped lead the effort to successfully reverse the Brownback tax experiment and put Kansas back on the road to recovery.

I am a no nonsense, problem solver who puts the best interests of our families first.

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?

Kelly: In 2030, I hope to be remembered as an Education Governor who funded our schools and gave all kids the opportunity they deserve to succeed. I hope that studies will show that Kansas has the best schools in the nation and - as a result - a thriving economy. I also hope that Kansas is recognized as a welcoming state and a great place to live, work and raise a family.

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