Rex Crowell, Republican from Longton is among the seven Republican candidates vying to represent the GOP in the November general election. The winner of the GOP primary will face Democratic incumbent Kathleen Sebelius.
Rex Crowell, Republican from Longton
Family: Divorced; four daughters, one step-daughter
Education: Bachelors and masters degrees from Emporia State University, law degree from Washburn
Occupation: Rancher, school psychologist and attorney
Political and governmental experience: Served in the Kansas House from 1975-1994, served on the Kansas Turnpike Authority board for 12 years, and the local school board twice for 12 years. Vietnam veteran who received the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Questions and answers
What would you do to ensure that Kansas has a constitutional school finance system?
The Legislature, working with the governor, should define what is an "adequate education" in Kansas and fund it for all public schools. The local option budget (LOB) could then be used for extras. However, restraint would be imperative because if use of the (LOB) was permitted to vary too greatly, the courts might find that disequalizing and unconstitutional.
Do you believe the Kansas Supreme Court has overstepped its authority and if so what if anything would you propose to do about it?
No, I do not believe the court overstepped its authority. The legislature is charged with the responsibility of providing for an adequate education. Two studies, authorized by the legislature, showed the legislature has not done so. The Court had no choice but to find the support for education inadequate and unconstitutional. In 1992, when the state took over funding responsibility for public education, as a member of the Kansas House, I predicted during debate on the floor that the legislature would not keep up with its responsibility. I was right.
If you are elected, name three proposals you would work on immediately?
The three proposals would include:
1) Defining and funding an adequate education for all Kansas school children.
2) Getting the state and our universities more involved in the research, development and production of alternative energy, including, but not limited to, use of wind, solar, and alcohol fuels. Kansas should be on the cutting edge of alternative fuels research, development and production.
3) Developing and making available an affordable health insurance program for those who are currently not able to acquire health insurance.
Do you support expansion of casino gambling. If not, why not, and if so, why and what kind of expansion would you push for?
Yes, I support expansion of casino gambling, subject to an affirmative vote by the local constituency where the casino would be located and provided the state did not actually own and/or operate the casino. I support expansion because Kansas already has casinos, there are other areas of the state which appear to want casinos, and, Kansas, through licensing the casinos, could reap financial benefits. I do not think we should look to increased gaming as the answer to our school finance problems. I would support using the money for college scholarships.
What if anything would you do about illegal immigration in Kansas?
I would support denying any state funded benefits, with the exception of emergency health care or health care to infants born in the United States, to illegal immigrants. I would use the governor's office as a platform to work with employers to get them to do a better job of checking employees and potential employees to see if they were illegal immigrants.
What would you do to promote economic development?
I would push hard with both our universities and the business community to put Kansas on the cutting edge of research, development and production of alternative forms of energy. Also, I would work with the legislature to reduce the amount of paperwork required to establish and maintain a small business in Kansas.
What would you do to improve or expand availability of health care? What do you think of Gov. Sebelius' initiative?
One of the first things I would do as governor would be to convene a bipartisan, blue-ribbon task-force to provide workable suggestions to make affordable health insurance available to those who are currently unable to obtain it. I would take their suggestions to the legislature and work for their passage.
How would you deal with the $600 million worth of deferred maintenance at the state universities?
The failure to maintain our investment in our physical plant at the universities is inexcusable. Under my administration we would find the money to do the maintenance, whether it was through the use of revenue from increased gaming activities, from a tax increase, or from making cuts in other programs.
What is your stance on drug crimes and what they mean for prison occupancy? Have you ever used illegal drugs or been arrested or charged with a crime?
Probably prison occupancy could be decreased by the use of technology to confine persons with no history of unlawful violent behavior, and no history of selling drugs, to their homes or some other half-way type of facility. This should be coupled with required education regarding the error of the offender's ways and the potential harm of drug abuse. No, I have never used illegal drugs. No, I have never been arrested for a crime.
What do you think about the prospect of the Kansas National Guardsmen being sent to patrol the border?
Kansas would benefit from stopping the flow of illegal immigrants. It is a national problem and Kansas should expect to do its part. I would hope Kansas' contribution could be filled by those guard members who would volunteer.
What do you think about the simultaneous drawdowns of the Ogallalah aquifer and the Hugoton gas fields?
My administration would deal with the issues head-on. I would ask the people of Western Kansas, through the use of a blue-ribbon task force, to come up with a solution or solutions to the problems. The issues are legal and environmental, and it is absolutely vital that they be solved if Western Kansas is to continue its role into the distant future as a great region of our state. I will use the governor's office to make certain the solutions are explored and that they are explored by the residents of Western Kansas. I will not ignore the issues as so many administrations have done. I will also work with the governors of the other states involved to find a truly workable solution.
What is the best solution to the depopulation/aging of so many Kansas counties?
There are a number of things which have contributed to the depopulation/aging of many, mostly rural, counties. Not the least is the continued growth in the size of agricultural units. I doubt that is a phenomenon we can reverse from the governor's office, although I wish we could. I think modern technology could be used to make it possible to work at many good jobs from small communities. If we can out-source jobs answering credit cards questions to India, surely we could do the same thing for workers who might want to live and work in small, rural Kansas communities. I would use the governor's office to work with legislators to provide incentives, and, business to try to make this a reality.
What do you think about small percentage of public access land in Kansas?
I need more information on this issue. My legislative district at one time contained 4 reservoirs and had a considerable amount of public land. In spite of the fact there is considerable public land within easy driving distance of my ranch, there has not been a shortage of people willing to pay to hunt my land. Any expansion of public land would need to be accomplished by negotiated purchase, not through the use of eminent domain.
What do you consider the top environmental concerns in the state and nation and where do you rank those concerns among their priorities?
The following are all major environmental concerns for both the state and nation and working for solutions would receive very high priority in my administration:
1) The adverse impacts of the heavy reliance on the burning of fossil fuels,
2) The preservation of biological diversity,
3) Preservation of the quality and quantity of the water available from the Ogallalah Aquifer,
4) Improvement of the water quality throughout Kansas, and preservation of water quality where good water still exists.
What type of cabinet would you assemble and what would try to accomplish in your first 6 months in office?
My cabinet would be composed of the brightest and most effective leaders I could find to accept the positions. During my first 6 months I would try to accomplish:
1) Setting Kansas on track to having an exemplary educational system from pre-school through post-graduate college work,
2) Solving the problem of availability of affordable health insurance for those who cannot currently obtain it,
3) Getting the state and our universities more heavily involved in the research, development and production of alternative energy,
4) Working with our universities and colleges to produce a design to get them more involved with improving the quality of life for the people of Kansas,
5) Working with the Legislature to assist local law enforcement in using new technology to reduce the incidence of the nonviolent crimes of theft and burglary, and,
6) Working with the Legislature to better manage the state debt which has been permitted to become too large.