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Archive for Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sebelius rolls out proposals, touts finances

January 10, 2006

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Monday called for doubling prison time for child sex offenders, and recruited former Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder to head a new program to mentor children.

Sebelius rolled out several other proposals during the State of the State speech, and talked at length of Kansas' financial turnaround.

"Hope has returned to the heartland," Sebelius said in a 25-minute speech to a joint meeting of the House and Senate as the 2006 legislative session started.

"Kansas is moving in a new direction and Kansans now have more tools to make the most of their own lives," she said.

Campaign kickoff?

Democrats gave Sebelius, a Democrat, high marks for the speech, but Republicans said it was long on self-praise and short on specifics.

"This was the kickoff to the Sebelius re-election campaign," Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, said.

"It was about testing themes, and that's why we saw very little substance and very little commitment to historical accuracy," he said.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius gives her State of the State speech Monday in Topeka.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius gives her State of the State speech Monday in Topeka.

Sebelius is expected to seek re-election in November.

House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, said he agreed with several of Sebelius' proposals, and added that Kansas is in much better shape now than it was several years ago.

But, he added, "I credit the people of Kansas, not any one party or any elected official or even a body of elected officials. If government doesn't get in the way, the genius of the people of Kansas is, they'll make out OK."

Accomplishments touted

Sebelius said her administration helped stabilize state government finances through cuts and efficiencies and without a tax increase. She did not mention that she proposed a tax increase in 2004 for schools that was rejected by the Legislature.

Since taking office, she said, the state has made a historic investment in education and also expanded opportunities for military families.

"We've been through a valley. We now stand atop a hill, looking toward the horizon and all the promise it has to offer," she said.

Upstaged earlier in the day with a legislative study that said the state should increase school funding by about $400 million, Sebelius vowed to work with lawmakers on funding and accountability audits.

"It isn't just about money," she said. "We can't spend our way to excellence." But she provided no details on school finance.

On health care costs, Sebelius made no mention of skyrocketing Medicaid expenses, but offered a $3.5 million proposal to cover 15,000 uninsured children.

On criminal justice issues, Sebelius proposed doubling sentences for child sex offenders and requiring all repeat sex offenders to remain under surveillance through electronic monitoring devices when they are released from prison.

She also proposed a "Kansas Mentors" program to be headed by Snyder, reducing business taxes, and including a voluntary tax check-off for military families.

During the speech, Sebelius welcomed Snyder, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, and Janet Wisdom, the widow of Staff Sgt. Clinton Wisdom, a Kansas National Guard soldier who was killed in Iraq.

Reaction mixed

State Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, said Sebelius delivered a "a great speech, but there wasn't much policy matter in it."

Correction

An article in Tuesday's Journal-World stated Gov. Kathleen Sebelius sought to double prison time for child sex offenders and require them to wear electronic tracking devices once released from prison. The tracking device requirement would apply to all repeat sex offenders, not just those whose victims were children.

But state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said, "The governor was hitting on everyday issues, and how we are doing in Kansas and how we can make it better."

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, said Sebelius was summing up her first term. "You have to acknowledge that she has gotten things done as a Democratic governor with a Legislature that has a Republican majority," she said.

State Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin, agreed, saying, "This is a governor who is doing things to make people's lives better."

But state Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said he wanted more substance from Sebelius.

"The governor gave an exceptionally good political speech, she wrapped herself in the flag," Sloan said. "I would've liked to have heard more on where we might be going in education, how do we address the water quality problems, and take advantage of energy opportunities," he said.

Schmidt said Sebelius was taking credit for things that Republicans helped her accomplish.

"It was a whole lot of bragging going on tonight. I thought for awhile that the governor was going to say her administration helped Al Gore invent the Internet," he said.

Sebelius' proposals at a glance

Taxes

Elimination of the property tax on new business machinery and equipment purchased after Jan. 1, 2007. "It will encourage Kansas companies to invest in new technologies to better compete around the world ..."

Education

A multi-year funding plan with audits of schools to ensure accountability. "I again stand ready to work with you to meet this challenge with a multi-year effort to ensure all Kansas children have an education that will take them as far as they can dream."

Role models

Launching "Kansas Mentors" to be headed by former Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder who will recruit volunteer mentors for children. "Every Kansas child deserves someone he can look up to."

Health coverage

Spending $3.5 million to provide health coverage for children from birth to 5-years-old who currently are uninsured. This will cover an estimated 15,000 children. "We can give our children the chance to grow up healthy and pursue all the opportunities life has to offer."

Sex offenders

Double prison sentences for child sex offenders and require them to wear electronic tracking devices once released from prison for the rest of their lives. This will place roughly 225 sex offenders under lifetime surveillance. "These tracking bracelets will allow law enforcement officers to monitor their locations at all times."

Military

Add a new tax check-off that will allow Kansans to donate to military families. "This is a great way to show our support for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, and Marines, whose service allows us to pursue all the opportunities life has to offer."

Comments

b_asinbeer 8 years, 11 months ago

As always, supporting party says "Great Speech!"....Opposing party says "Speech without content".....what else is new?

btw, what's Mr. Derek Schmidt talking about? Sebelius did help Al Gore invent the internet you know.... ;o)

Linda Endicott 8 years, 11 months ago

Doing things to make our lives better? Like what? Making life better how?

Sounds like just another political speech, where they talk all around John's barn, and really don't say anything.

DaREEKKU 8 years, 11 months ago

The Republicans had their chance to help Kansas, look how Graves did...POORLY! Look at our economy with Clinton compared to Bush....Crappy! Sebelius needs to offer some content but I think we should stick with her into the next four years.

bankboy119 8 years, 11 months ago

Da, you obviously have missed that argument of the economy under Clinton and then under Bush. The recession actually started under Clinton, and then continued under Bush. More revenue has come in under Bush than ever came in under Clinton. Unfortunately, the idiots in the Senate have squandered it all. I don't care if they're Rep or Dem, there needs to be a balanced budget.

bankboy119 8 years, 11 months ago

Lol wendt you're never a surprise. I hope you're talking about Clinton there. If you're saying Bush is to blame for the economy you should also note that yesterday the Dow went above 11,000 for the first time since 2001. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

badger 8 years, 11 months ago

Actually, I was more amused that macon47 seems to think that someone besides the Republican President and the Republican-controlled Congress is responsible for Medicare and Social Security right now. If anyone's 'letting the old people spend their grocery money on medicine', it's the current federal administration, with help from the last thirty or forty years of federal administrations.

He seems to assign an awful lot of power, there, to the government of Kansas.

In re the speech: It was a political speech. Avid Dems will like her. Avid Republicans will not. The real news is that moderates mostly do, and that's why she holds office and has a good chance to keep right on doing so. The state of the union/state of the state is always a political tool.

You also, macon47, can't really blame Sebelius for the education debacle. The state is constitutionally bound to fund education; it's not constitutionally bound to fund healthcare for the elderly. You want to try to change either of those facts, be my guest. Sebelius has suggested programs to try to fund education, but the legislature ultimately has to wrap itself around something more solid than trying to dodge its constitutional obligations and get her something to sign. She can't legislate from the governorship; she needs them to get on the ball and meet their constitutional obligations; she can't sign laws they haven't passed.

tolawdjk 8 years, 11 months ago

Amazing that you honestly think Bush has anything to do with the Dow going up.

Govt, either party, can't make the Dow go up, at least not long term. People do that. Everyday normal John Q. Public. If govt has any effect, its because they manage to keep a status quo long enough or avoid screwing up enough that the people become secure with the patterns.

Govt, either party, can only make the Dow go down by pulling dunderhead moves.

case in point, real estate. That market's movement and the money generated there in has absolutely no bearing on who is in power. It's John Q. Public putting a value on a piece of land and finding some other John Q. Public to think that its worth more to them. Plain and simple.

The Dot Com fall. It didn't fall because of political positioning or idiologies, it fell because John Q. Public woke up and realized that 99% of those companies did not provide one product or service, they were just "ideas" with overinflated senses of worth.

It's easy to banter around the blame, say one Pres is at fault for this or at fault for that.

I will say this. I honestly think that Kansas does come as close as it is possible right now to a three party system. Sure, they might just be Reps and Dems, but when you boil it down, it is the ideas of the person that count. If a politician will come forward with enough sensible ideas, show a plan for going forward, and a willingness to make hard decisions and compromise when needed, the people listen, regardless of political affiliation. That's why Sebelius is in power today, and why she has an excellent chance to be in power tomorrow. The extremes of either party spend far too much time preaching about why things are wrong and not enough time convincing on how they plan on making them right.

dlstrohm 8 years, 11 months ago

I think it's necessary for the government to supplement the medical care of the elderly and disadvantaged. However, I think everyone has missed the boat as to what the government's role is. People spend their lives expecting the government to make up for their lack of planning, lack of work, lack of intelligence in some cases.

It is not the government's job to fund our existence...that's called communism. The role of medicare/medicaid is only to make up for deficiencies where there is no alternative. It should not be relied upon as a first option. But we have come to depend on, and outright expect, the government to support us like children. I am in my 20's and my generation will not have any such support because of the addiction this country has to government care. Certainly some people cannot help the predicament they are in, but most could have changed their course and did nothing. It is time to take responsibility for our own lives and quit expecting the government to run our lives for us...that is not their job.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 11 months ago

Taxpayer funded healthcare for all Kansans would be good for economic growth and more importantly should cost less than what so many are paying in current premiums which is truly the bottom line.

Keeping a population well and healthy tends to require less medical care thus less expense.

christie 8 years, 11 months ago

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is a level headed breath of fresh air for the state of Kansas. God Forbid we elect some right-wing-nut Republican who turns this state into a mini-taliban run religious state.

lunacydetector 8 years, 11 months ago

pro-choice = pro-dead child (or non-taxpaying citizen)

i thought the state was broke. i guess the state will unleash some money to finish the SLT. the only significant job growth are government jobs which has increased 4 fold.

i like the chickadee check-off OR military family check-off choice on a tax return - feed a chicken or feed a family -harr, harr

lunacydetector 8 years, 11 months ago

....that should've read (or dead non-taxpaying citizen)

....and someone wrote she was better than graves. graves WAS a democrat who posed as a republican (republican in name only - RINO).

i also thought 'hope' was a city in arkansas not kansas.

Godot 8 years, 11 months ago

Sebelius is a very good politician. She is not a leader; not even a problem solver. In fact, she is a "problem creator, " which, I guess, is part of being a good politician. Tell the unwashed what it is they don't have that they need, and promise to give it to them, but don't come up with a plan to do it.

Then present a budget that includes money for new entitlements, but does not provide for the court-ordered, post-audit proved necessity of more funding for K-12 education. Later, after the legistlature hammers out a solution to the K-12 funding by denying the funding for the governer's outlandish promises, claim, 'The Conservatives cut my programs. They do not care about you."

Expect to see her run for Senate as soon as possible.

Godot 8 years, 11 months ago

The Senate situation is why she is being cagey about announcing for governor. What a joke that she says it is because she wants to focus on what is right for Kansas. Not. She wants to hedge her bets so that she can capture a seat in the Senate.

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