Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and challenger Jim Barnett on Wednesday argued about the economy, school finance and immigration during a live televised debate.
"I'm proud of the work we've done together," said Sebelius, a Democrat seeking a second four-year term.
But Barnett, a Republican state senator from Emporia, said Sebelius had failed to lead on numerous issues. Kansans, he said, "want leadership. They don't want slick commercials."
The two face off Nov. 7.
The candidates fielded questions sent in from viewers during a half-hour debate on WIBW.
On the economy, Sebelius said when she came to office, Kansas was reeling from the post-Sept. 11, 2001, recession and state government was nearly broke.
Since then, state revenues have skyrocketed, thousands of jobs have been created and Kansas' economic growth is drawing national attention, Sebelius said. She added that the recovery happened without a tax increase.
But Barnett described Kansas' job growth as an "embarrassment," lagging the nation and surrounding states.
He noted that Sebelius proposed a tax increase in 2004 that was rejected by the Legislature.
More about the race
If elected, Barnett said he would cut taxes to spur the economy.
On public school finance, Sebelius noted that Barnett voted against the new $466 million, three-year increase in funding that recently was approved by the Kansas Supreme Court to end a long-running lawsuit.
"The senator does not support the three-year plan that the Legislature passed, that I signed into law and that the court has signed off on. I do," she said. "If you elect Senator Barnett governor of this state, the promises will be broken to our children."
But Barnett said the new school funding plan "drives our state to unconstitutional debt."
"It's another broken promise in the making," he said. "All areas of government have been shut out and are at risk because of this fiscal irresponsibility from the office of governor."
Barnett also criticized Sebelius for signing into law a measure that allows the children of illegal immigrants to pay the less expensive in-state tuition at state institutions of higher education.
"We will remove that law from this state when I'm elected governor," he said.
Sebelius has said she approved the law because it requires those qualifying to have lived in Kansas at least three years, graduated from high school and started to seek citizenship.
During the debate, Sebelius called illegal immigration a "national crisis." She said she supports legislation that would fine employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, but added that the federal government needs to come up with a comprehensive plan to combat illegal immigration.
The forum was the second between Sebelius and Barnett. They will debate three more times before the election, with the next one being Oct. 11 at Lake Quivira.
Election 2006 - Kansas races
More on the 2006 Elections in Kansas
- 6News video: Low turnout may result in new primary election date (08-30-06)
- 6News video: Candidate speaks at university forum (08-30-06)
- 6News video: Evolution supporters will hold board majority (08-02-06)
- 6News video: Snag-free night for primaries (08-02-06)
- 6News video: County puts new voting machines to test (08-01-06)
- 6News video: Praeger holds up over opponent (08-01-06)
- Low turnout prompts call for new primary date (08-31-06)
- Publisher blasts candidate for illegally stuffing newspapers (08-04-06)
- Election hailed as pro-evolution (08-03-06)
- New voting machines perform well on first test (08-03-06)
- Barnett wins GOP bid to take on Sebelius (08-02-06)
- Voter turnout among lowest in memory (08-02-06)
- Eudora takes plunge on pool (08-02-06)
- Praeger prevails in 'negative' contest (08-02-06)
- Primary election results
- See how the voting went in select races
- Campaign finance reports
- Statewide office
- Board of Education
- Election 2006 - Kansas races