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Archive for Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Education, environment will be seen as Sebelius legacy

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius leaves her office with a security officer Tuesday at the Kansas Statehouse. She was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services and will likely resign her post as governor.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius leaves her office with a security officer Tuesday at the Kansas Statehouse. She was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services and will likely resign her post as governor.

April 28, 2009, 2:47 p.m. Updated April 28, 2009, 5:16 p.m.

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Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' farewell message

As Kathleen Sebelius leaves to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, she leaves behind a message for Kansans. Enlarge video

Students on a tour of the Kansas Statehouse on Tuesday make their way past a photograph of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius outside of her ceremonial office. It is expected that the governor will be confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services and that she will resign her post as governor.

Students on a tour of the Kansas Statehouse on Tuesday make their way past a photograph of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius outside of her ceremonial office. It is expected that the governor will be confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services and that she will resign her post as governor.

An informational card featuring Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius sits at a visitor's station Tuesday in the Kansas Statehouse. It is expected that the governor will be confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services and that she will resign her post as governor. Behind Sebelius are cards of Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, State Treasurer Dennis McKinney and Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh.

An informational card featuring Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius sits at a visitor's station Tuesday in the Kansas Statehouse. It is expected that the governor will be confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services and that she will resign her post as governor. Behind Sebelius are cards of Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, State Treasurer Dennis McKinney and Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh.

Kathleen Sebelius: Two decades in politics

Kathleen Sebelius is the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services in Obama's Cabinet. She has served as Kansas' governor since 2002 and before that was insurance commissioner and a state representative.

— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was confirmed as the nation’s chief health official Tuesday, but her legacy in Kansas may be felt in public schools and the environment.

Sebelius presided as the state’s chief executive during a contentious and historic struggle over school finance, which resulted in substantial funding increases to the classroom.

“She was instrumental in securing that a plan came out of the Legislature that was fair to all school districts and addressed the lawsuit,” said Kathy Cook, executive director of Kansas Families for Education. “Without her leadership, I don’t think we would have had that success.”

In 2005, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the school finance system was unconstitutional because it shortchanged schools with higher concentrations of minorities.

After a legislative standoff with the court, a rare and bruising special session, and then a funding plan that directed increases for equity and at-risk students, the court blessed the finance system in 2006.

Others say Sebelius was more of a facilitator than leader in the school finance battle, but the fact is that since she became governor in 2003, school funding increased nearly 50 percent, from $2.125 billion in state aid to $3.131 billion.

Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University, said the Kansas Supreme Court did the heavy lifting in the school finance lawsuit by hammering on the Legislature to get something done.

“With the court rulings, there was no need to invest too much political capital,” Beatty said.

Beatty said Sebelius’ leadership style was not to get too far ahead of public opinion because as a Democrat in a Republican state she was cognizant of her minority party status.

“She didn’t like to get too far out in front of issues because I think she thought it could actually hurt those issues,” he said. “She did not want to be seen as a Democrat. Her popularity was largely based on the perception that she was looking out for the whole state.”

But Beatty said Sebelius broke from that practice on the decision last year to oppose plans to build two 700-megawatt coal-burning power plants in southwest Kansas, citing the project’s carbon dioxide emissions.

“She decided to use her political capital for the environment. I’m not sure anyone saw that coming,” he said.

Ironically, those decisions on school finance and carbon dioxide continue to occupy much of the Legislature’s time. Because of the national recession and dwindling state revenues, lawmakers are fighting over how much to cut from schools.

And supporters of the coal-burning plants again are attempting to override a Sebelius veto of the project.

Comments

Danielle Brunin 5 years, 5 months ago

I read the headline and thought she was dead...

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yankeelady 5 years, 5 months ago

She has been a good steward. She will be missed.

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KEITHMILES05 5 years, 5 months ago

Finally, the twit of an idiot who has been devastating for the state of business in Kansas is GONE.

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Godot 5 years, 5 months ago

Debt, debt, and more debt. Endless spending, serially obstructing attempts to foster growth. Playing politics and personal power over sound policy.That will be the Sebelius legacy in Kansas. Unfortunately, that is now the future for our system of commerce and health care under Obama now that Sebelius has been annointed the Queen of Health and Human Services.

We pray: God, Allah, Yaweh, Budah, all gods, help us. Save us from Kathleen the Great! We beseach thee.

The answer: .

Don't drop the soap.

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Danimal 5 years, 5 months ago

Glad she's gone. She's better than the crazy super conservatives the KRP has been running, but still not as good a governor as our state deserves.

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Chris Ogle 5 years, 5 months ago

Education, environment will be seen as Sebelius legacy

Never mind the budget.

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douglas6280 5 years, 5 months ago

What legacy? In her first year she submitted a plan for funding education. It was rejected by the legislature. The next year she did not even try to propose a plan and she said it was the up to the legislature to craft a plan. That's a great leader, try once and fail and then quit. Her legacy in my opinion: 1. Her delivery of the democratic response to President Bush's State of the Union address in January, 2008 -- that was a gem. 2. Putting national democratic politics over the needs of Kansas. She neglected early steps that could have lessened the budget crisis in Kansas. 3. Whining about not having enough National Guard troops and equipment due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after the Greensburg tornado. I never thought Kansas was a place for whiners - we shut up and get things done. Let's face it we haven't had a decent, or even competent governor in Kansas since Bob Docking.

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Shardwurm 5 years, 5 months ago

Douglas6280 - reference #3 above.

What she should have done is fire her Adjutant General on the spot. There's also an Emergency Preparedness office right there in the State Headquarters. The fact that there were no vehicles available should not have been a surpise to anyone.

That's why people get paid big money - to understand the potential risks and to take steps to mitigate them. If her TAG had been doing his job he would have notified the Chain of Command (Gov Sebelius) and contracts would have been drafted and let to provide emergency vehicle support from private concerns.

I say that in an accusatory way but the fact is the TAG may have indeed told her beforehand and simply chose to keep his mouth shut. In any case, a lot of heads should have rolled...but it wasn't the war in Iraq that prevented vehicles from being available....it was HER STAFF.

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ronwalker 5 years, 5 months ago

Kathleen Sebelius was one of the great governors in the U.S. bar none! She lead Kansas through some very difficult times and did so with character and dignity! There are a lot of opposing forces in Kansas that potentially could divide Kansas permanently. She particularly worked for all of Kansas and not special interest groups. She advocated for the middle class and those who are less fortunate. Since this is America, people can say what they want, but the facts remain that education, business and almost every area in Kansas advanced significantly under her administration! She will be a hard act to follow! Good luck to Governor Parkinson!

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