With news that Democrat Stephene Moore may run to replace her husband, retiring U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, the Democratic Party defense of the 3rd District has intensified.
In his post-regular legislative session news conference last week, Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, who generally has been genteel in his dealings with the Republican-dominated Legislature, went out of his way several times to condemn the “Yoder budget.”
That’s a reference to state Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican from Overland Park, who is one of several Republicans seeking the GOP nod in the 3rd, which includes east Lawrence and all of Johnson and Wyandotte counties.
Yoder is also chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Earlier in the legislative session he pushed through a budget proposal that holds the line on state taxes, but, as Parkinson noted, cuts funding to public schools, which would require local property tax increases to make up for the difference.
Parkinson said that proposal “is in my view irresponsible.”
Yoder’s budget, endorsed by House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, and House Majority Leader Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, has gone nowhere in the Legislature, gaining heavy public criticism from Democrats and the quiet abandonment of many Republicans.
“It will have a particularly negative effect on rural school districts that don’t have the wealth of the districts that Representative Yoder represents, so they would be forced to raise their property tax mill levies significantly,” Parkinson said.
Even so, Yoder has defended his proposal.
Moments after Parkinson made his remarks, Yoder issued a news release saying, “The House Appropriations Committee has produced a budget that will balance while freezing spending at current levels. The governor’s reckless attempt to dramatically force a regressive statewide tax increase on every Kansan to pay for his spending spree is shocking given the state of the current Kansas economy.”
Parkinson, however, and Senate Republican leaders argue that after having cut $1 billion from what was once a $6.4 billion state budget, there is not much more to cut. They say a coalition will form to back a tax increase in the $400 million range when the wrap-up session starts April 28.
The GOP field to replace Moore is crowded. In addition to Yoder, candidates who have announced or filed include Nick Jordan, a former state senator; Patricia Lightner, a former state representative; Daniel Gilyeat, Craig McPherson, John Rysavy and David King.
The 3rd District is always a battleground on the national level because Republicans, who have a majority in voter registration, believe they should hold the seat. Moore has thought otherwise, winning election in 1998 and defending his position ever since.
His decision not to run stunned many Kansans, but then he floated the rumor that his wife would run.
Last month, the Kansas City Star reported that Stephene Moore was in the race. But later Moore issued a statement, saying she was considering it but hadn’t made a decision.