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Archive for Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sebelius says focus on Kansas, not D.C.

As second term starts, speculation begins

December 24, 2006

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State budget fixed. Check.

School finance lawsuit dismissed. Check.

Re-elected by wide margin. Check.

National recognition. Check.

That's an oversimplified checklist for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, but by most accounts Sebelius starts her second term with some political clout.

The question becomes how will she use it.

"It's an open book," said Loran Smith, a political science professor at Washburn University.

Smith said Sebelius, a Democrat, can either play it safe by presenting a modest agenda to the Republican-dominated Legislature when the legislative session starts Jan. 8 or "damn the torpedoes."

Sebelius has gained a reputation through national publications as a bipartisan problem-solver, has amassed record political contributions in Kansas and was recently elected chairwoman of the Democratic Governors Association.

That has fueled speculation about whether she will pursue another political office, such as the U.S. Senate in 2008 or 2010, be part of a White House ticket in 2008 or get a high-ranking federal job if Democrats win the next presidential election.

But in an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World, Sebelius said she's committed to her current job.

"I ran for governor to be governor. This is really where my focus is and will remain," she said.

She said the national attention is flattering, but that it's really a reflection of positive news about the state of Kansas.

In the interview, Sebelius focused on meat-and-potato issues for the upcoming session: education, health care, the economy and energy.

On public schools, she said the state will solidify funding the last two years of a $466 million increase. That plan led to the dismissal of a school finance lawsuit that had tied state officials in knots the past couple of years.

Sebelius also said she wants to phase in full-day kindergarten statewide and initiate some preschool programs.

She promised to lay out a plan to address the $727 million worth of deferred maintenance projects at state regents universities.

And Sebelius weighed in favor of recent discussions by the Kansas University Medical Center to pursue affiliations with other health care institutions, including those in Missouri.

"We have such a tremendous opportunity," she said in making a world-class research and treatment center that would benefit Kansas.

Without providing specifics, Sebelius said she will have a "major energy push" that includes conservation, economic incentives for rural development and some targeted tax cuts for employers.

On health care, Sebelius repeated earlier promises to extend state coverage to all children from birth through 5 years old.

"Working families are really struggling with affordable health care," she said. A recent study by Washington-based Families USA said health insurance costs in Kansas are increasing nearly five times faster than wages.

She said details of her proposals would be unveiled during her State of the State speech to the Legislature on Jan. 10 and the release of her proposed budget the next day.

Smith, the Washburn professor, says despite Sebelius' minority party status in Kansas, she is dealing from strength.

She was re-elected in November with 58 percent of the vote even though Republicans enjoy a sizable advantage in voter registration.

"If you oppose her, it better be on good grounds and not partisan grounds," he said.

Comments

Sandman 7 years, 12 months ago

You'd be hard pressed to find an unkind word printed in the LJW about any Democrat.

And equally tasked to find a kind word about a Republican =/

Media bias is not always just national.

coldandhot 7 years, 12 months ago

Rothschild again writes a flowery, fluff piece about a Democrat! Sebulius has really HURT our state.

It is sad. She wins national attention because she is a great MARKETER and FUNDRAISER, not a great governor. Money and media. She is about as good as Graves, which ain't saying much.

The LJ World has to be one of the worst papers on political bias.

yankeelady 7 years, 12 months ago

And malcontents on Christmas Eve yet. Peace on earth goodwill to republicans? Seriously, the governor has done a great job, considering the legislature she has had to deal with---not to mention the far right yapping at her heels, the BOE, etc etc

classclown 7 years, 12 months ago

I'm not republican. Just making an observation of how she takes credit for absolutely everything under the sun. The great thing with not being party affiliated is not being blinded by devotion to a party to notice things like that. I can see the good and the bad.

While my opinion is that she has not been a bad governor, she isn't as great as she paints herself to be.

You seem to be malcontent that not everybody is on their knees worshiping your great democrat god.

heysoos 7 years, 12 months ago

ass-hats...

Can't get over the stark reality that they are part of the shrinking minority of viewholders in this state. That's all it is.

Oh, and it isn't the LJW that can't say enough nice things about her, it's Time Magazine, The New york Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post...

Sean Livingstone 7 years, 12 months ago

For those who do not support Katleen's decision: Don't you all know that if Kansas doesn't take it, Oklahoma will still take it and we will still get the pollution, no matter what. It's not like if it's not going to be build here, it will never be built.

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