Where do you think the state budget can be cut?
Gov. Sebelius has had much success by introducing the Budget Efficiency Savings Teams (BEST) initiative when she was first elected, saving taxpayers over $1 billion in her first four years in office. I am encouraged that Lt. Gov. Parkinson is revitalizing this effort - with the increased access to technology our agencies have, we should be able to dramatically cut back on the amount of paper we use and be sure that we are using all energy efficiency techniques available to us. I also believe that agencies should be required to operate with the minimal amount of administrative overhead cost without damaging services provided to taxpayers. Additionally, conservation and efficiency programs can be implemented to save money on energy costs in state buildings.
It is important to understand that every state program was created to meet the needs, demands, wishes of Kansans. What is perceived as waste or irresponsible spending by one person is deemed essential or sound public policy by another.
Based on the most recent tax revenue figures, no cuts in the current budget will be necessary. If budget reductions become necessary, I believe that aid to education and assistance to those unable to help themselves - the very young, our senior citizens, and persons with disabilities, are our highest priorities. All other budget items are subject to reduction.
Do you support Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' opposition to the two coal-fired plants in western Kansas?
Yes, absolutely. I would have voted against the legislation and supported the governor's veto. To be so heavily dependent on coal is not only financially risky, but perilous for the environment and the health of Kansas families and communities. The cost of coal, at all levels of the supply chain, will continue to rise and Kansas ratepayers will be the ones taking the hit for that. Renewable energy development, particularly wind, represents the largest economic development opportunity the state has seen in decades. Our state is blessed with abundant wind resources that should be harnessed to produce clean energy. Aggressive wind development, in concert with conservation and efficiency policies, is the way forward if we are going to protect our environment and reinvigorate the Kansas economy statewide.
When the House of Representatives removed my amendments providing incentives for renewable energy generation, high voltage transmission lines to move wind energy to customer markets, and a scientist-based advisory committee to the Legislature and governor, I voted No on the coal plants.
When my amendments to increase the amount of wind power generated in Kansas were included in the energy bills - creating a more balanced energy portfolio that guaranteed both energy reliability and affordability - I voted yes.
As an independent voice in the Legislature, I have introduced and passed more renewable energy incentive bills than any other Kansas legislator. This session I worked to require existing power plants to do carbon mitigation, new plants to have lower emissions than EPA permits, and for KDHE to propose carbon dioxide emission levels - none exist today. I will continue working for a comprehensive energy plant that includes conservation, renewables, and reliable and affordable electricity.