Q. If elected, what will be your top three priorities for this office?
A. Education must be a top priority. With projected revenue shortfalls, I am concerned that investments in education not be short-changed. Margin of Excellence funding must be restored and we must find ways to improve delivery of quality education.
Property taxes have forced evaluation of reliance on various taxes. We must provide property tax relief and search out fair and equitable ways to generate revenue.
The increasing demands on SRS, which already comprises one-fifth of the state's budget, indicate the need to evaluate programs and efficient delivery of services to be sure that Kansans in need, especially children, are receiving proper assistance.
Q. Do you support action on the part of the state to reduce property taxes? How would you propose to make up lost revenues if property taxes are reduced?
An additional 1 percent sales tax would raise an estimated $210 million and, if returned to local school districts, would provide about a 28 percent reduction in the school district mill levies.
Additionally, I support a plan introduced in the Senate last session to adjust the classification amendment to reduce the commercial rates, especially for small business owners and non-profit organizations, and shift burdens back to owners of large industrial properties and machinery. I believe this plan offered the best solution for alleviating many of the unfair shifts brought about by reappraisal and classification.
Q. What restrictions, if any, should be placed on abortion in Kansas?
A. The choice of whether or not to have an abortion must remain with the woman and her family. I would, however, support restrictions, as do most states, on third trimester abortions. These are rarely performed anyway because of the potential for dangerous complications. We need to focus attention on preventing unwanted pregnancies through education and on providing reasonable alternatives to abortion. Hannah's House in Lawrence is a fine example of providing assistance to young women who choose to carry their pregnancy to term.
Q. The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services is facing increased demands on its resources. How will the state be able to handle those demands? Do you think added tax revenues are needed, do you think eligibility requirements for some services need to be tightened, do you think some programs need to be eliminated or do you think no changes are needed?
A. Since 1982, SRS's budget has doubled to almost $1 billion. Two special committees are now evaluating SRS spending and delivery of services. Even with a billion-dollar budget, there are Kansans not receiving the service they need. I will be anxious to review the committee reports to identify improvements and budget needs. At that time, we will be able to better quantify needs and realign priorities in state spending. I propose creating a cabinet-level position for children's services to focus attention on early identification and intervention for at-risk children. The goal must be to help SRS recipients achieve their full potential.
Q. What do you think is the most pressing problem facing state universities? Do you think state universities are adequately funded, particularly in regard to faculty salaries?
A. The third year of the Margin of Excellence must be funded. In fact it's time to plan for excellence beyond the Margin. I also believe the time has come for qualified admissions to regents schools. It is not efficient for professors to teach remedial courses. If minimum entrance standards are met, universities can concentrate on higher education. Faculty salaries are not adequate. The Margin will bring faculty salaries to parity with peer institutions, but we must do more. If we attract and retain the best faculty, then we will keep the best and brightest students in Kansas.