Kelly and Schmidt spin political goals as Kansas gubernatorial race enters final two weeks
TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly is committed to building a comprehensive early childhood education system in Kansas during a second term as governor that makes child care more affordable, expands preschool and invests in literacy programs.
She said the reform would be streamlined under the leadership of an early childhood education secretary and would be coupled with a plan to fully fund special education in public schools. Such adjustments would need to be passed by the Kansas Legislature, which has a two-thirds Republican majority.
“I have said time and time again that my goal is to leave office after building the strongest and most comprehensive early childhood education system in the country,” Kelly said.
She is running for re-election against Republican nominee Derek Schmidt, who served more than a decade as state attorney general. With two weeks to go until the general election, the two candidates on Monday aimed to bolster campaign attacks and remind voters of the priorities they would pursue if elected chief executive of the state on November 8.
Schmidt released a lengthy statement that outlined his first-term goals on education and other issues. He touched on Kelly’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to nationwide and statewide declarations of emergency and decisions to move Kansas public schools to an online format rather than teaching. in class.
He said the state governor “has been quick to exclude children from their classrooms” and that children and parents must be the first consideration when implementing education policy . His remarks, first published on Fox News, did not explain how he would have handled the health risks of COVID-19 for teachers, staff and administrators if mass gatherings in schools continued when the pandemic hit in 2020.
“Our current self-appointed governor of education … has caused more harm to more of our children than any other governor in the history of the state,” Schmidt said.
Kelly’s overview of second term priorities included investments in business recruitment and jobs in Kansas. It would focus on expanding apprenticeship programs, reducing college costs and building more affordable housing.
It would commit the State to providing high-speed Internet access to all hospitals, schools, businesses or homes that request it.
“In just four years,” Kelly said, “we’ve got Kansas back on track, built an award-winning stable economy, and set records for new business investment. But there is more we need to do.
The Kelly administration claims to have attracted $14 billion in new business investment, including a $4 billion Panasonic manufacturing plant, and created or retained 51,000 jobs.
Schmidt, who served in the Kansas Senate with Kelly, said an influx of federal funding associated with the pandemic had inflated state budgets approved by the GOP-led Legislature and the Democratic governor to unsustainable levels.
He called Kelly’s time as governor a period of “big spending, big government.” In a speech at a Kansas Capitol rally on Sunday with members of the Kansas Patriots, Schmidt said socialists in Washington, DC, have taken control of the instruments of political power. It’s a direction “that just isn’t good for a lot of us in Kansas,” Schmidt said.
The sparsely attended event in Topeka included remarks from Justin Spiehs, a Lawrence resident arrested at least twice for protesting COVID-19 policies. He directed his anger at “milquetoast” government officials, including Republicans, and praised one person in the crowd’s repeated request to “get rid of these traitors.”
Schmidt also slammed Kelly for vetoing 20 individual tax cuts, including a package of tax cuts sought by business interests that were tied to a 6.5% sales tax cut. on Grocery Products. Kelly proposed repealing this unpopular food sales tax effective July 1, but signed an alternative passed by the 2022 legislature phasing out the tax over three years.
“Kansas needs a new governor who will make everyday life more affordable during this time of record gas prices, skyrocketing grocery bills and a lagging state economy,” Schmidt said. .
Biden vs. Brownback
Schmidt has responded to claims he is a clone of former Gov. Sam Brownback by saying the current state governor is nothing more than a puppet for the “out of touch” policies favored by President Joe Biden, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
Brownback, who resigned in 2018 to work for President Donald Trump, anchored his governorship on the “experimental” premise that eliminating the state income tax would generate broad-based economic growth. employment and overall economic prosperity. This led to a collapse in state revenues, budget cuts, an increase in the sales tax rate, and the eventual repeal of its tax program.
Schmidt said Kelly was looking to “hide behind a false middle ground” and that the November election was about changing course “from the party of Joe Biden and Laura Kelly.”
In a similar vein, a special interest ad theme designed to undermine Schmidt alleged that his agenda would parallel Brownback’s. The association between Schmidt and Brownback was invoked by Kelly to describe what might happen if she was not re-elected and what she had done to reverse the “mismanagement” of the Brownback era.
“It resulted from politicians putting their own ideological agenda ahead of what was best for Kansas,” Kelly said. “These same old extremist politicians are threatening to take us over. We cannot afford to do this.
Schmidt has been endorsed by Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former US Senator Pat Roberts and an array of GOP governors. Kelly’s list of Republican endorsements included U.S. Senator Nancy Kassebaum, a former governor. Bill Graves and Mike Hayden and, most recently, former Attorney General Carla Stovall.
Stovall left office in 2003 and had intentionally stayed on the sidelines of politics.
“But the stakes in this election are too high,” Stovall said. “I’ve seen how Derek Schmidt has used my old office for the past few years and I fear he will replicate that in the governor’s office. He is using taxpayers’ money to pursue a particular political agenda that does not respect the views of most Kansans.