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Topeka — Eight Kansas business leaders have been named to a key element of Gov.-elect Sam Brownback's transition to governor in January.
Transition chairman Kenny Wilk said Friday that the group is working with state agencies to learn more about their functions before the arrival of the new administration. Brownback said during the campaign that he would focus on reducing state spending and eliminating unnecessary programs that Kansas can no longer afford.
The Economy and Jobs Agency Outreach Team is led by Wichita oil and gas executive David Murfin and includes Wichita City Councilwoman Sue Schlapp, who also is a member of the transition team.
Wilk says the team will be looking for ways to help agencies meet goals and put more Kansans to work. The Kansas unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in September, the latest figure available. The next Kansas jobless report will be released Nov. 23.
"The top priorities of a Brownback Administration will be to grow the state's economy, get the more than 100,000 unemployed Kansans back to work and balance a state budget that faces a budget deficit upward to $500 million," Wilk said.
The members were meeting this week with the departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Revenue and Labor, as well as economic agencies KTEC and the Kansas Bioscience Authority.
Other members of the team and their areas of expertise are Jeff Melcher, Johnson County, technology; Delbert Selectman, Wyandotte County, general contracting; Dale Rodman, Toronto, agriculture; Jim Spigarelli, Johnson County, research and development; Janie Welsh, Sublette, real estate; and Denise Walsh, Topeka, finance.
Friday is the final day to apply for several openings in the new administration.
Brownback, a retiring U.S. senator, replaces Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson in January. He will be filling members of his Cabinet, as well as positions within various agencies and commissions.
Wilk says there has been a lot of interest in the openings, which should translate to a diverse new administration.