The race for Kansas House speaker has more implications on social issues, such as abortion, than on budgetary matters, say the area's newly elected Republican legislators.
The expected Republican contest for speaker of the Kansas House next month probably won't directly affect the outcome of higher-education funding, say two newly elected area GOP legislators.
But there will be some indirect effect on higher education -- the winner will set the agenda for budgetary issues and will put his own supporter in charge of the Appropriations Committee, said Republicans Tom Sloan of Lawrence and Ralph Tanner of Baldwin.
"You try to reward those who got you there," said Sloan, who won Lawrence's 45th District seat Nov. 8 from incumbent Rep. Forrest Swall, a Democrat.
Sloan and Tanner, who take office in January, will go Dec. 5 and 6 to Topeka for orientation and party leadership races. Rep. Joann Flower, R-Oskaloosa, who won re-election to the 47th District seat, which includes northeast Douglas County, will also vote in the GOP race. She could not be reached for comment.
Sloan said so far he has not committed his vote to current Speaker Bob Miller, Wellington, nor Miller's expected challenger, Speaker Pro Tem Tim Shallenburger, Baxter Springs.
Shallenburger is being urged to run by GOP social conservatives, whose agenda includes tightening the state's law on abortion. Miller is pro-choice on the abortion issue and considered more middle-of-the-road on other social issues.
Sloan, who is also pro-choice and considers himself a centrist, said that with the exception of mail he has not had any direct contact with either Miller or Shallenburger since the election about the speaker's race.
"My guess is they are working the folks who are veterans and are working their way to the newly elected folks," Sloan said.
In terms of higher education, the speaker's race doesn't mean much because both Miller and Shallenburger are higher-education supporters, Sloan said.
But if Shallenburger wins, he could appoint a new chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which is now chaired by Rep. Rochelle Chronister, R-Neodesha, Sloan said.
"My guess is if Rochelle backs Bob Miller and if Miller is not successful, there would be a change in the Appropriations Committee," Sloan said.
Tanner, who won the open 10th District seat, which includes southeast Douglas County, said he has committed himself to Miller, because Miller has more moderate views.
"He represents some of the traditional positions where Republicans in Kansas have stood," Tanner said.
"I would guess that the attitude or treatment of higher education would be similar regardless of which leader succeeded," said Tanner, former president of Baker University.
Tanner said several GOP lawmakers were surprised Shallenburger had decided to make the challenge after earlier saying he wouldn't run against Miller.
"There are a number of of folks who are a little unsettled about this whole thing," Tanner said. "You have to stay loose like a shortstop and be ready to go in whatever direction."