Chat about the governor's race with GOP nominee Jim Barnett

October 2, 2006

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Jim Barnett

Jim Barnett, a Republican from Emporia, has served in the Kansas Senate in 2000, following an eight-year tenure on the Emporia school board. He takes your questions on Monday, Oct. 2, about his effort to unseat Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

<a href="">Watch video interview with Jim Barnett »</a>.


Hi folks! I'm Joel Mathis, managing editor for convergence. Sen. Barnett is here and ready to take your questions. We'll roll here soon.

Jim Barnett:

Thanks, Joel, happy to be here. Look forward to the questions.


I read on your campaign website about your ideas for decreasing various taxes. How will you propose to make up this loss of revenue, which will undoubtedly be necessary to keep state government functioning at an adequate level? There are many pulls on these funds, as you well know, not the least of which is education. I am very concerned about the impact your tax proposals could have on Kansas. Thank you for your time.

Jim Barnett:

In the Senate, I proposed a 4 year budget that sent $495 million toward our schools that allowed for targeted tax breaks for all Kansans. Included in my plan is a reduction of the state income tax by at least 20%, an elimination of the estate tax, an increase in dependent exemptions of $500 and a 10% investment tax credit for all businesses.
Ultimately to fund schools in Kansas, keep state pensions secure and pay for the current highway plan we have to grow the economy. My plan funds these programs by kick-starting the slow Kansas economy and keeps the state out of debt - something that the current school funding plan endorsed by the governor does not.


Senator Barnett, can Kansans count on you to enforce the school funding deal passed this year if you're elected Governor? Do we have your one-hundred-percent commitment on that? Because I'm skeptical about our ability to afford that mammoth school funding bill.

Jim Barnett:

I am skeptical about the Kansas budget being able to afford this current funding plan as well. Right now, even with rosy projections, we will fall into unconstitutional debt in year 3 of the program.
My committment to funding Kansas schools is undeniable. As past school board president of the Emporia School District and in the Kansas Senate, I have demonstrated a committment to funding schools in a way that won't hurt the economy.
The Governor has created a financial situation that will be hard to recover from. That is why kick-starting the Kansas economy is so important and you have that committment from me that I will work to grow the Kansas economy so that we can afford the current school bill.


As this year's chairman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, you focused most of the panel's time and energy on abortion-related legislation. Do you feel that abortion is the most compelling health issue facing Kansans today?

Jim Barnett:

Well, bettie, I would challenge your contention that we spent "most" our time on abortion-related legislation. From discussing the benefits of breast-feeding (and passing leglislation) to discussing the potential negative impact of mercury contained in immunizations, I had the health of all Kansans in mind each day in committee.
As Governor, I have proposed that by the year 2010 Kansans will have quality heath care and affordable health insurance available. Further, my health care plan serves as a top priority of the my Administration.
I do agree, however, that abortion is an important health issue facing Kansas.


What plans do you have for veterans who are residents of Kansas and returning to the state after serving in the military, many who have been fighting in the War on Terror? Any special programs or plans to help them along, or to encourage them to use their Montgomery GI bill benefits in the state of Kansas, and encourage them to live here after the war is over and show Kansans' support our troops?

Jim Barnett:

I'd like to say thanks and express my support for all returning troops, especially Kansans who have fought in the war on terrorism.
I believe that we should perform a top to bottom review on the commission for veterans affairs and make sure we are providing all the potential benefits to our veterans here in Kansas.
Just as important, however, is making sure we have a vibrant economy for our returning veterans.
We need to make sure when they come home that we can provide them high-paying jobs and health care for their families.
I have provided a plan to energize the economy with targeted tax cuts and have provided a plan to give all Kansans affordable health care. I pledge to continue to make the Kansas economy and the health care of all Kansans a top priority.


Senator Barnett, can you explain your proposed freeze of state spending? Specifically list all of the programs subject to your proposed freeze, and those you would exempt. I agree with you, Governor Sebelius always seems to speak in generalities -- so, I'm expecting you to be very specific.

Jim Barnett:

In my budget, I provided additional money for education, protected the disabled, frail and elderly and provided a 2 1/2% increase for the regents institutions.
We froze the budget until the Kansas economy grew - something that will happen if I'm elected Governor.
My plan to grow the economy will allow for all programs to be funded and will also allow for all Kansans to have a little more money in their pockets to spend at KU football and basketball games!


Do you consider yourself a moderate republican or a social conservative?

Jim Barnett:

I consider myself a Kansan first and a Republican second.
I have displayed the ability on the Emporia School Board and in the Kansas Senate to work with all members to develop programs and legislation that benefit all Kansans.
For example, the problem of illegal immigration facing Kansas and the Nation knows no party or ideology. I know Democrats that do not support giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants as Kathleen Sebelius supports.
In addition, an overwhelming majority of Kansans, Republican and Democrat, moderate and conservative, do not support giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants like Kathleen Sebelius does.
I cannot look the other way as Kathleen Sebelius has on this important issue - Kansans deserve leadership, leadership they have not been getting under Kathleen Sebelius.


Our six universities have been forced to defer maintenance for so long that they need $600,000,000.00 just to bring us back to baseline. This is due to the unwillingness of our leadership in Kansas to step up and adequately fund our institutions of higher education. Your response to this failure was to suggest increasing commerce to create a large tax-base. You also proposed a ":a $500 increase in the dependent exemption, which could be used by families to pay for educational costs."

This refusal to deal realistically with maintenance issues is what got us into this mess in the first place. Do you have anything of substance to offer on the problem of our crumbling campuses?

Jim Barnett:

I appreciate the question.

This is one of the many problems occurring because of the lack of leadership from Kathleen Sebelius.
Because we haven't grown this economy under Kathleen Sebelius we face various budgetary problems that will not change without a change in the governor's office.
When we grow the Kansas economy with my economic growth package, problems ranging from the unfunded liability of the state retirement system to deferred maintenance will be addressed.

I appreciate your questions - please visit my website, to read more about my campaign to put Kansas Families First.

Jim Barnett


Unfortunately, that's all the questions we have time for today - there were more good questions about health care, ethanol, immigration and intelligent design that we weren't able to get to in the alotted time. But we thank Sen. Barnett for coming in and taking questions today. We're still working on getting Gov. Sebelius in for a similar chat; hopefully we'll be able to report good news on that front soon.


Vince 11 years, 6 months ago

Wow, did he ever directly answer a question? Is this really the guy we want making tough decisions? Notice he never clearly commits to THE school funding bill, he tries to avoid specifics like we're too dumb to notice.

We're not too dumb. Right? Guess we'll find out Nov 7

Stephen Roberts 11 years, 6 months ago

has Sebilus answered any of these questions? If so I must have missed it.

The problem with politics is people want direct answers but you can not give them because it all depends.

For example, in order to increase funding for schools, why doesn't the legislature pass a law to make schools pay property taxes on both real state and personal property. Then use the money to help increase the funding for schools.

Reality- the schools would get more money coming in but they would also have more outflows. It would then make the schools ahve to defend their expenses- something the schools (adminsitration) and the teacher unions do not want.

I think Channel 5 had a truth watch. Were the would compare the ads for an office and show were both sides were telling only a part of the story.

Remember there are three sides to a story my side, your side and the truth. Normally the truth is somewhere between my side and your side.

Steve Jacob 11 years, 6 months ago

He knews he's in a losing battle today. Heck, I bet the Gov. will be in Ohio this month helping the dems in the big senate race.

I want to start the Sebelius for senate in 2010 bandwagon. Brownback VS Sebelius would be a battle!

bettie 11 years, 6 months ago

right, jim. maybe you didn't technically spend "most" of your committee's time on abortion-related bills. but when you only convene the health committee 15 times during five months of legislative session, and you use 6 of those meetings to deal with the pet projects of kansans for life, it's hard to believe that you'd make use of the governor's office to address the healthcare crisis in kansas.

Godot 11 years, 6 months ago

I liked his answers. They were much more direct than anything Sebelius has ever uttered.

Baille, the State of Kansas has far more pressing budgetary issues that repairing the crumbling buildings at Kansas institutions of higher learning.

The endowment funds are flush with money. The KU endowment fund is close to, if not exceeding, $1 BILLION dollars!!!!! Let KU Endormwnt pay to repair the buildings they "gave" to Kansas.

youngitized 11 years, 6 months ago

I really wonder how he would plan to fund his proposals if he is cutting pretty much every tax there is in Kansas. I support paying taxes because I support helping people out! All he is doing by this dialogue (if you can call it such) is pandering to the far right of his party. Just look at who his looney running mate is that Susan Wagle from Wichita who is probably too crazy to be in the Kansas State Senate! My guess...Gov. Sebelius 55%, Sen. Barnett 43%, other candidates 2%.

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