Topeka — Opposition to abortion and higher taxes represents the mainstream view of Kansas Republicans, conservative members say as the GOP celebrates the anniversary of Kansas' statehood this weekend.
State Treasurer Tim Shallenburger, who is running for governor, said at the Kansas Republican Assembly banquet here Friday that he didn't understand how some Republicans could applaud President Bush's position against abortion and higher taxes and then call Kansans who hold the same views "right-wing fanatics."
"I guess I'm the right-wing nut of the day," Shallenburger said. The assembly claims the wing of the party aligned with Bush and former President Reagan, but so-called moderate Republicans, led by Gov. Bill Graves, are often at odds with the group. Officials with the Kansas group say it is the largest Republican Assembly per capita in the nation and second largest overall although they would not say how many members there are.
Shallenburger promised the nearly 250 people at the downtown Ramada Inn that he would not raise taxes if elected governor, and that the Legislature did not need to raise taxes now.
"We don't have to raise taxes. We don't need the revenue," he said. Lawmakers and Graves are fighting over how to fix a $426 million revenue shortfall caused by lower-than-expected tax funds and increased costs.
Graves has proposed raising the state sales tax one-quarter of a cent, the cigarette tax by 65 cents per pack and the fuels tax by one cent per gallon. He has said without new revenue, the state would have to make deep cuts in education and social services.
But KRA members criticized Graves' proposal and gave an award to two legislators Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, and Rep. Peggy Long, R-Madison for challenging Graves' contention that Kansans would support more taxes.
Huelskamp and Long were part of a news conference to establish the "tax-me-more" fund where they invited Kansans who wanted to be taxed more to send in their money. The proposal angered Graves who called its supporters a "theater made up of bad actors."
In introducing Huelskamp, KRA President Jim Mullins of Lawrence called him a great legislator and great Christian who "gets under the governor's skin."
"The folks in Kansas agree with us," said Huelskamp as he accepted the Ronald Reagan Outstanding Leadership Award.
Shawnee County Treasurer Rita Cline, who is running for state treasurer, said she wanted to put "In God We Trust" posters in every classroom and school auditorium in the state.
Bryan Riley of Wichita, who is running for insurance commissioner, said he would rather the market determine insurance benefits than the state.
And Phil Kline of Shawnee, who is running for state attorney general, said, "Compassion begins and ends in respecting the inherent value of human life."
Other award winners were:
l Rep. Mary Pilcher Cook, R-Shawnee, for pushing for amendments that would have banned experiments in human cloning at state universities, required abortion providers to tell their patients about the risks of breast cancer, and required children to recite a portion of the Declaration of Independence.
l State Board of Education members John Bacon of Olathe and Steve Abrams of Arkansas City for their work to keep evolution out of public school science standards. The decision in 1999 brought national attention to Kansas and was later overturned by the school board after two members who voted for the no-evolution standards were defeated in elections. The two, Linda Holloway of Shawnee and Mary Douglass Brown of Wichita, were defeated in November 2000 elections.