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Archive for Saturday, November 2, 2002

Shallenburger support

November 2, 2002

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State Treasurer Tim Shallenburger has the best opportunity to lead Kansas out of its current financial problems.

When Kansas voters wake up Wednesday morning they will know who their governor will be for the next four years.

That answers one question, but many others will remain.

As voters go to the polls Tuesday, they go with the knowledge that both major party candidates have spent the campaign avoiding meaningful discussion of the major financial problems facing the state, how best to generate more revenue for the state and how to provide adequate funding for education. On Wednesday, the reality of those problems will be staring at the winner of Tuesday's election.

Tim Shallenburger, the Republican candidate, has been marginally more forthright with voters during the campaign, and it's encouraging that he has said he would not veto a tax increase if the Kansas Legislature passed one. However that means the onus will be on the leadership in the House and Senate to provide answers to serious problems. It also suggests that the politics of trying to place the blame for tax increases on someone else may become more important than recognizing the state's needs and working to solve them.

Kathleen Sebelius, the Democrat, has not demonstrated leadership or suggested any vision. And having a governor from one party and a Legislature controlled by the other, with each jousting for political advantage, isn't a pleasant prospect.

There really is only one issue in this year's governor's race and that is how the state should deal with its financial crisis. It's unfortunate that neither candidate has realistically discussed how the state can preserve its basic services in the current economic climate.

It seems likely that both candidates know that some increase in taxes at either the state or local level will be necessary to adequately fund public schools, but neither has shown any leadership on this issue. Rather than trying to set a course for Kansas that voters can support, they have sidestepped the tough issues.

Although it has been a disappointing campaign, it is time for Kansas voters to make a choice. Shallenburger has a strong legislative background and would seem better prepared to work with the Legislature to deal with the state's difficult financial problems. The Kansas Republican Party has suffered from deep philosophical splits, but Shallenburger has the best chance of healing this rupture, mobilizing the Legislature and building consensus on realistic solutions.

The Journal-World supports Shallenburger's candidacy for governor in Tuesday's election.

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