Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Republican challenger Jim Barnett on Saturday argued over taxes, the economy and how many hours the governor's job demands during their fifth and final debate before the Nov. 7 election.
Sebelius, a Democrat seeking re-election, chided Barnett, a state senator from Emporia and physician, for saying that if elected he would continue to see patients as part of his medical practice.
"I continue to be a bit baffled by my opponent who says he's ready to be a part-time governor - that he thinks he can practice medicine and be governor at the same time," Sebelius said.
But Barnett responded, "I will be a full-time governor. Let there be no doubt about that."
Later, Barnett said that if elected governor he would continue to practice medicine on a limited basis, saying that would help him keep in touch with everyday Kansans.
The exchange occurred during an hourlong, live debate televised on KSNT-TV.
The two candidates also differed sharply when asked what they would do if there was $100 million in newfound revenue, and only they could determine how to use it.
Sebelius said she would spend it on early childhood education and making higher education more affordable. Barnett said he would "give it back to the taxpayers."
Barnett touted his proposal to cut personal and business taxes as a way to spur the economy and his new plan to freeze property valuations for residents 65 and older.
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But Sebelius said Barnett's valuation freeze would shift the tax burden to other taxpayers. She said her proposal approved by the Legislature to cut property taxes on new machinery and equipment would boost the economy.
After the debate, Sebelius said that if she is re-elected, her administration would "continue to look for ways to cut taxes that grow jobs."
Little new ground was broken during the debate.
Barnett was usually on offense, blaming Sebelius for what he said was a lagging economy and the three-year, $466 million school finance plan, which he said would drive the state into deficit spending.
He accused Sebelius of ducking the tough issues while blanketing airwaves with slick television ads.
But Sebelius said the Kansas economy has rebounded under her tenure. She vowed to fulfill the spending commitment to public schools. "I'm very proud of the progress we have made," she said.
In questions recorded earlier from voters, the candidates were asked their opinion of expanding casino gambling.
Barnett said he opposed expansion, saying that gambling brought many social problems, and he criticized Sebelius for supporting a proposal that would have allowed state-run casinos. "I don't think the state of Kansas wants to have on its payroll card dealers and pit bosses," he said.
Sebelius said she has supported several expansion proposals because currently the state is losing revenue from Kansas gambling dollars going out of state or to tribal casinos.
"We have an opportunity to keep those dollars here at home," she said. "I think it is time to let the Kansas voters make this very important decision."