Archive for Thursday, July 27, 2017

Next Kansas governor is a surgeon and a Brownback loyalist

In this March 9, 2017, file photo, Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, left, and Gov. Sam Brownback participate in a humanitarian award ceremony at the statehouse in Topeka, Kan. (Thad Allton/Topeka Capital-Journal via AP, File)

In this March 9, 2017, file photo, Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, left, and Gov. Sam Brownback participate in a humanitarian award ceremony at the statehouse in Topeka, Kan. (Thad Allton/Topeka Capital-Journal via AP, File)

July 27, 2017, 9:11 a.m. Updated July 27, 2017, 4:25 p.m.

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— Jeff Colyer is preparing to become Kansas' next governor after nearly a decade helping fellow conservative Republicans shape health care policy by drawing on his background as a plastic surgeon, who squeezed in medical relief missions to disaster and war zones.

Loyal to GOP Gov. Sam Brownback, Colyer would be elevated when his two-term running mate resigns to become President Donald Trump's ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Trump nominated Brownback for the post.

Brownback wouldn't say Thursday whether he'll wait to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to step down as governor or resign earlier. Colyer kept a low profile, turning down a request for an interview and not attending a Statehouse news conference at which Brownback discussed his nomination and tenure as governor.

Colyer would serve the remainder of Brownback's term, which ends in January 2019. The 57-year-old Colyer already was seen as a potential Republican candidate for governor next year because Brownback was term-limited. He was often the administration's spokesman on health issues and served in the Legislature before first running on Brownback's ticket in 2010.

Colyer may deviate little from Brownback's policies on fiscal and social issues. In an Associated Press interview in December, Colyer described himself in classic "Star Trek" terms as a first-officer Spock to Brownback as Captain Kirk, saying, "We're working for the same goals."

But Brownback told reporters: "He's his own man, his own person. He's an accomplished physician, an accomplished public policy person."

Brownback is known nationally for aggressive personal income tax cuts in 2012 and 2013 designed to stimulate the economy. Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since.

The GOP-controlled Legislature in early June enacted income tax increases over a Brownback veto that would raise $1.2 billion over two years. Their changes will increase income tax rates, end an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners and largely roll back the past cuts Brownback championed as pro-growth policies.

If Colyer runs as expected for a full, four-year term as governor in 2018, he's likely face a crowded field. His ties to Brownback would be a liability in a general election campaign and "a mixed bag" even in a GOP primary, said Patrick Miller, an assistant political science professor at the University of Kansas.

"I don't sense that he has really strong name recognition or a really strong personal brand," Miller said.

State Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, who is part of a working group Colyer formed on Medicaid issues, said she thinks he will be "a little more open" to working with his political opponents than Brownback.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., an Olathe Republican, said he doesn't yet have a feel for how Colyer would govern but said the lieutenant governor would be guided by "a different set of life experiences."

"Ideologically, I think he's aligned with Gov. Brownback," Ryckman said.

Colyer would face formidable opposition for the Republican nomination. Secretary of State Kris Kobach is running for governor, and at least five other GOP candidates are running or considering a run. Two Democrats have launched campaigns for governor as well.

While Colyer has been influential on health care policy and is personable, he's not as dynamic a stump speaker as Kobach and does not have as high a national profile. Kobach is vice chairman of a presidential commission on election fraud.

Yet Colyer's tenure as lieutenant governor has seen its own waves of attention and controversy. He oversaw an initiative that in 2013 turned over the administration of the state's Medicaid health coverage for the poor and disabled to three private companies.

He also made three $500,000 loans to Brownback's and his re-election campaign in 2013 and 2014 that were highly unusual for their size and timing; two were paid back within days. Prosecutors ended a grand jury investigation in 2015 without plans for criminal charges.

Colyer's friendship with Brownback began more than 20 years ago, when both were White House fellows; they occasionally attended Mass together.

Colyer owns a plastic surgery practice in Overland Park that performs cosmetic procedures as well as reconstructive surgery. He remains on call at multiple Kansas City-area hospitals to help trauma victims.

He also has continued going overseas with the International Medical Corps, a group with whom he's been affiliated since the mid-1980s. He's performed trauma and reconstructive surgery and trained local doctors in countries including Afghanistan, South Sudan, Rwanda and Iraq.

Colyer gained a reputation with the group for being adept at handling high-pressure, life-and-death situations.

The father of three daughters, Colyer ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2002. He served in the Kansas House in 2007 and 2008, where he helped draft health care legislation. He won a state Senate seat in 2008.

Colyer was a vocal critic of the 2010 federal health care overhaul championed by former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and still opposes expanding the state's Medicaid program as contemplated by that law.

Comments

Steve Jacob 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I think it's better to elect a Lt. Governor like Missouri does then to elect them with the Governor. This is the second time the Governor has left this century.

Cerys Clark 4 months, 3 weeks ago

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Richard Heckler 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Expect nothing different from the Lt Governor. HE is an ALEC loyalist.

NO ONE ELECTED THE CONSERVATIVES OR DEMOCRATS OR ANYONE ELSE TO DESTROY OBAMACARE or MEDICAID.....NO ONE!

Put forth choices which would allow consumers aka voters to pick which seems more practical for their needs. Let the voters have final approval authority!

=== ObamaCare which retains the health insurance industry for those who are pleased with the medical insurance industry after all it is their dollar. This needs stiff federal regulations that cannot be superseded by the states. Offer a tax dollar rebate at the end of every year that would equal about what families would “payout” through taxes = $3300..

=== Single Payer Medicare for ALL = excellent coverage for those who wish to enroll. The absolute best choice on planet earth. This group does not need tax rebates because our taxes are working for this plan and we the taxpayers.

WE know that using the existing medicare template to service Medicare for All Single payer saves lots and lots of dollars over reinventing the wheel. http://www.healthcare-now.org/docs/spreport.pdf

=== ALLOW self financed health care for those able to do so. Paying out of pocket is more efficient for this group. Offer a tax dollar rebate at the end of every year that would equal about what families would “payout” through taxes = $3300.

=== ALL Disabled vets should receive Medicare with a 100% benefit so they and their families can receive medical care immediately upon discharge.

=== Let the voters approve this package. NO ONE SHOULD EVER BE UNDERINSURED AGAIN NEVER EVER.

=== Business SHOULD NOT BE FORCED TO PROVIDE HEALTH INSURANCE!

NO ONE ELECTED THE CONSERVATIVES OR DEMOCRATS OR ANYONE ELSE TO DESTROY OBAMACARE OR MEDICAID.....NO ONE!

Bob Smith 4 months, 3 weeks ago

How many times have you posted this screed, Richard? 500 times, 1000 times? BTW, your caps lock is sticking again.

Steve Hicks 4 months, 3 weeks ago

"Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss." -- The Who, "Won't Get Fooled Again."

Individual politicians don't really matter, as individuals. Politicians has a short shelf-life, and a brief window in which they do good or evil.

Being a "Brownback loyalist" isn't the problem with Colyer either. The problem is that the new boss, same as the old boss, is loyal to the same evil ideology. And changing out one ideologue for another CHANGES nothing.

The harm caused by an evil ideology continues long after any ideologue out-dates. How long for example, will it be before Kansas digs out of the financial mess the ALEC-based "conservative" budget "experiment" put us in ?

As long as it takes Kansans to see through the ideologues' lies that ideological "conservative" government is GOOD for you, and the only thing that can protect us from sinister federal "over-reach" and its "socialism."

As long as Kansans' keep believing the destructive lie that "government is the PROBLEM"...a malevolent external force...and not (as American political tradition says) the people themselves acting "to promote the general Welfare."

If Kansans want GOOD and smart government (and we've had enough of the other kind that even "conservatives" with a brain are beginning to defect to commonsense politics), Kansans need to re-examine the beliefs that have caused them to be fooled into BAD choices.

Until then, Kansans (and not Kansans only) WILL get fooled again, and again, and again, and again, and...

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 months, 3 weeks ago

He only has 1 year. Maybe Trump will find a temp job for him. Or he could go back to being a doctor.

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