Archive for Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Governor Mark Parkinson says he has no apprehensions about Sam Brownback taking over

Outgoing Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson answers the questions "What accomplishments are you proud of?" "What issues do you think will be popular during the next administration?" and "Are you satisfied with the state's progress?"

November 16, 2010, 2:32 p.m. Updated November 16, 2010, 5:07 p.m.


Outgoing Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson talks Tuesday in Topeka about his accomplishments in office and what he expects to happen with the incoming Republican administration of Gov.-elect Sam Brownback.

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson talks Tuesday in Topeka about his accomplishments in office and what he expects to happen with the incoming Republican administration of Gov.-elect Sam Brownback.

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— To Democrats, buck up.

To those who think incoming Republican governor Sam Brownback is too conservative, give him a chance.

And to Brownback, who takes over in two months, don’t make assumptions.

Those are some of the parting words of advice from Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, who decided against seeking election and will be leaving office.

Asked if he had any apprehensions about handing the levers of state government to perhaps the most conservative governor in Kansas history, Parkinson said no.

“I have tremendous respect for our system and for the wisdom of Kansans and Kansas voters,” Parkinson said during an interview Tuesday.

He said politics flows back and forth, but “In the long run, it all tends to work out.”

Cites accomplishments

In 2006, Parkinson, a former state legislator and Kansas Republican Party chairman, switched parties to run as lieutenant governor with then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

When Sebelius left in April 2009 to join President Barack Obama's cabinet as secretary of health and human services, Parkinson climbed into the top Kansas job.

With the state mired in its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Parkinson decided not to seek election, which he said removed a lot of politics from governing and enabled him to work better with some Republicans in forming a majority with Democrats.

Parkinson said the accomplishments of the past 18 months include balancing the budget during a historic drop in tax revenue, passing renewable energy standards, breaking ground on electric transmission line projects, adopting a transportation plan, increasing wind energy production and passing a statewide indoor smoking ban.

He has critics. The budget was balanced with the passage of a one-cent per dollar state sales tax increase, which infuriated House Republican leaders and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

And the renewable energy measures came in exchange for Parkinson allowing a new permit process for an 895-megawatt coal-burning electric power plant in southwest Kansas, which has raised the anger of environmentalists and is still not resolved.

Prodding regents universities

But Parkinson said the speech he gave to the Kansas Board of Regents in August 2009 may have the most lasting impact of any during his tenure as governor.

In that speech, Parkinson urged Kansas universities, which had been sliding in national rankings, to re-commit to academic improvements.

“I felt like there had been too much complacency with how our regents schools had been performing,” he said Tuesday.

He said now the schools, including Kansas University, have plans in the works to increase graduation and retention rates. He said he supports proposals to increase student admission standards.

“We have kids that don't belong at our four-year schools but are going there,” he said, adding those students would be better served in community colleges or technical schools.

Give Brownback a chance

Parkinson will give up his job on Jan. 10, when Brownback is sworn into office. Parkinson has been selected as the next president and chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.

Parkinson, who has met with Brownback twice since the Nov. 2 election, has encouraged Brownback to “come into state government with a fresh set of eyes.”

And he urged Kansans to help out the new governor. “I think it's very important that we give him or any new governor some space,” Parkinson said.

Parkinson said Brownback faces a “huge learning curve.” Even though Brownback has served in Congress for 16 years, Parkinson said the governor's job requires more work and carries more responsibilities.

As a legislator, Parkinson said, “You can pretty much say or do anything you want because at the end of the day you don't have to make it add up. When you're governor, it has to all add up.”

Parkinson said he expects Brownback will have an easy time making changes in social policy, such as more regulations on abortion. But, he said, Brownback will have a more difficult time if he sets out to overhaul the budget, tax system and school finance formula.

Democrats should be proud

He said even though Democrats in Kansas suffered big defeats during the last election, they should be proud of what they have accomplished.

He said a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans have essentially run state government over the past eight years and did a good job. “We did not waste our time,” he said.

Parkinson added, “What's important is that when you are in power, you do something with it. You use your political capital. You make changes that improve the state.” He predicted Democrats will rebound.

Asked if he would ever come back to Kansas and run for office, Parkinson said he has no plans to do that, but added, “It’s possible.”


ksriver2010 7 years, 4 months ago

It's shame that Parkinson did not run. Seems like a reasonable guy. Any politician that imposes his own term limits has my respect.

calvin 7 years, 4 months ago

So you must like Brownback as well - he did the same thing. He set a term limit on how long he would serve in congress.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

If Brownback didn't think the governorship was a better platform from which to run for president, he'd have run for re-election to the Senate.

calvin 7 years, 4 months ago

Actually before ever becoming a senator he said he would serve two terms and then be done.

kansanjayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

He is a turn coat and not trustworthy...

kansanjayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm not impressed with the switch from R to D for political purposes?

cato_the_elder 7 years, 4 months ago

If you can't even spell "Sebelius," the truth must elude you most of the time.

kujayhawk7476 7 years, 4 months ago

And Brownback is a right-wing whack-o! We don't need the type of "social" change in Kansas that Brownback and his band of conservative whack-o legislatures want to bring. Watch out voters, your civil rights are about to be attacked!

As a republican, I applaud some of Mr. Parkinson's accomplishments, but his budget balancing act came by adding to the suffering of public schools and Regent's institutions.

Shardwurm 7 years, 4 months ago

Personally I believe he didn't run because he knew he would be blasted out of the water like most of the other Dems in this last election. Many Democrats decided to 'retire' and not run in the 2010 elections because they saw the writing on the wall and knew their political careers would really be over if they ran and got thrashed.

Either way it was a good move for him.

kansanjayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

which "civil right" are you talking about? The right to dismember unborn children by tearing them limb from limb? I guess that is a civil right that I reject!

jhawks360 7 years, 4 months ago

For once, I disagree with Governor Parkinson. There is plenty of reason to have apprehension about Sam Brownback becoming governor. Lets hope the Brownback Administration isn't the end of moderate politics in Kansas.

Governor Parkinson: I hope you enjoy D.C. Please come back to Kansas soon. We're going to need you.

kansanjayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

I hope that Brownback will represent moderation in temperment but conviction in his convictions. Enough of the wind driven "moderation" of political leaders who have no beliefs!

mr_right_wing 7 years, 4 months ago

I agree with you Governor; and am glad to see you're being more than reasonable.

I was more than happy to grant you an early retirement, and hopefully you'll be accompanied by Mr. Obama in two years! (There's a retirement that will be 4 years too late.)

Maybe you two could become drinking buddies in retirement??

kernal 7 years, 4 months ago

This posting is too representative of so many Repubs: childish; petulant and imbecilic. Not your best work.

kansanjayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

I guess you didn't read some of the comments made about Phill Kline?

kernal 7 years, 4 months ago

Senator John McCain essentially said the same thing to the Ohio Republicans the last days of his run for U.S. President as Gov. Parkinson is saying to us now. The Buckeyes jeered McCain and the Repubs in D.C. have continued to push their partisan politics.

I would like to see Kansas Dems be "the better people" and try the bi-partisan approach and see what we can do to fix things at home with Brownback, instead of against him. If he blows it, there is always the next election.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Unlike the many who want to see Obama and the Democrats faiI, I hope that Brownback and the massive Republican majority in KS succeed.

I wonder, though, whether Republicans in KS will judge them on their actions and the outcomes of their policies.

For example, Brownback has promised to "protect" education and social service funding.

And he doesn't want to raise taxes, but wants (actually must) balance the budget - so far he hasn't proposed any spending cuts.

If his policies fail, or he breaks those promises, will KS Republicans hold him accountable?

kansanjayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

fortunately all 33 of the D's in the House and what was it in the senate 9 or 10? will not have much of a say in anything next session!

lounger 7 years, 4 months ago

Same thing was said of G.W. Bush. We all know what sh*t storm came after that!!

Kontum1972 7 years, 4 months ago

sure Gov., the checks in the bank why should u care....

remember_username 7 years, 4 months ago

Well, his new job is headquartered in Washington, DC. Maybe he's planning on moving out of the state, so why worry?

centrist1 7 years, 4 months ago

Parkinson must be smoking crack........ Brownback could be the death of Kansas.

kansanjayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

A little bit strong don't you think? "The death of Kansas" I don't think so! Sebelius and Parkinson were the real "undertakers" and thank the Lord they are moving on out!

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