Q. If elected, what will be your top three priorities for this office?
A. My first priority would be to open our government to more direct input from the people through a system of initiative and referendum. This system acts as a safety valve on our democracy, allowing people to enact their own laws when elected officials fall short. Secondly, we must take quick and decisive action on the issue of property tax relief. Finally, We must cut government waste and streamline government operations in order to meet a $100 to $200 million budget shortfall without making cuts in SRS and education.
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?
A. I have proposed a $460 million property tax relief package which will cut property taxes by 30 percent and provide 2 times more relief than Gov. Hayden's plan to raise the sales tax 1 percent. I will finance this relief by leading the Legislature in a discussion of which of the 47 goods and services currently exempt from the state sales tax should be taxed at 1 percent. We will need only half of the potential revenue to provide $460 million. I believe that the principle of broadening the tax base is more fair and sound than raising a tax already paid by the same consumers who are paying high property taxes.
Q. What restrictions, if any, should be placed on abortion in Kansas?
A. As a Roman Catholic, I have always said that I am personally opposed to abortion. I know that this is not a popular position to take. As governor, I will let the Legislature decide this matter and not initiate or lobby for any restrictions. The only two restrictions that could pass the Legislature are parental notification and a ban on third trimester abortions. I would sign these restrictions. Finally, let me say that I am sorry if any of my remarks on the deeply emotional matter of abortion in the case of rape and incest offended you. As governor I never would and could not do anything to deny the victims of these terrible crimes the option of seeking an abortion.
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. The cuts that Gov. Hayden tried to make in programs to children and the poor are a shameful legacy that must end. If there are any cost-saving measures to be applied to SRS, they must be applied to operational costs, not programs and aid. SRS is top-heavy with supervisors and short on social workers. That trend must be reversed.
If we are to build a better future, we must make a greater commitment to our children. Every dollar spent today on children saves six dollars in future costs on crime, corrections and welfare. SRS should not be cut now, because its programs will lessen the burdens that our children and grandchildren will encounter.,
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. Kansas' greatest economic resource is its people. I am committed to investing in people first. Educational development is our best form of economic development. We must keep quality educators in Kansas universities. It is our best insurance against losing the brightest young Kansans to the "brain drain."
The most pressing problem facing our universities is a lack of solid, long-term financial commitment. Our universities should not fall prey to last-minute budget cuts. I have proposed that lottery funds be committed to our universities in order to provide a consistent source of funding that cannot be raided by legislators seeking to cut corners.