MISSION The prosperity of the Kansas economy is tied to the success of core businesses and the leadership of moderate elected officials, Gov. Mark Parkinson told workers in a Kansas city suburb.
Parkinson spoke Tuesday in Mission to employees at GeoEye, a provider of satellite and aerial information and photography, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
"The future of the state is great provided that we stay on this path that we've been on, which is a centrist government that is pretty reasonable, that balances budgets, but makes wise investments," said Parkinson, who didn't seek the Democratic nomination for governor and will leave office in January. "If we continue on that path as opposed to bumper-sticker solutions of the far left or the far right, I think we will do very well as a state."
Parkinson stressed that agriculture, aviation and energy industries are particularly crucial to the state's success, as is the blossoming of upstart companies.
For much of the past year, Parkinson has worked on resolving a massive state budget shortfall that threatened deeper reductions in spending on education, social services and public safety programs. State lawmakers and Parkinson earlier this year approved a 1-cent increase in the statewide sales tax to balance the state government budget.
Maintaining investment in K-12 schools and higher education is essential to the state's economic recovery, the governor said.
"I love the arts and literature myself, but let's make sure every student that graduates has a marketable skill," he said.
Parkinson pointed to a recent report from the state Department of Labor as a reason for economic hope. While the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly from 6.6 percent last month compared to 6.5 percent in July, the report said data that wasn't adjusted for seasonal employment fluctuations showed a slight drop in the unemployment rate from July to August.
"I feel terrible about the fact that we still have 100,000 people still looking for a job," Parkinson said. "When I talk about the economy as better, I don't mean to minimize what they're going through."
He said jobs in construction and aviation would return as the economy recovers.
"Our economy has not changed enough from this recession that those industries are going to go away," the governor said.