Kansas vot­ers chose Kelly, re­ject brash par­ti­san pol­i­tics

The Wichita Eagle (Sunday) - - Opinion -

Kelly’s cam­paign show­cased bi­par­ti­san­ship by as­sem­bling en­dorse­ments from an ar­ray of high­pro­file Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing for­mer U.S. Sen. Nancy Kasse­baum, for­mer gover­nors Mike Hay­den and Bill Graves, and dozens of cur­rent and for­mer state law­mak­ers.

Vot­ers in the five large ur­ban coun­ties — Dou­glas, John­son, Sedg­wick, Shawnee and Wyan­dotte — gave Kelly a hefty 110,000 vote cush­ion that as­sured her statewide vic­tory.

Kelly’s chal­lenge in gov­ern­ing for the next four years will be to carry for­ward on her com­mit­ment to bi­par­ti­san­ship. Two years ago vot­ers elected a leg­isla­tive coali­tion that not only aban­doned Brown­back’s rad­i­cal tax ex­per­i­ment but had the votes to over­ride the gov­er­nor’s veto.

The num­bers for a po­ten­tial bi­par­ti­san coali­tion have tightened due to the suc­cess­ful tar­get­ing of leg­isla­tive seats by the Kansas State Cham­ber and its dark-money ally, Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­ity. House Democrats will be­gin the 2019 leg­isla­tive ses­sion with 39 seats, one short of the past two years, and cen­trist Repub­li­cans with roughly 35, a hand­ful short. How­ever, this coali­tion will not likely be con­fronted by a gu­ber­na­to­rial veto.

Repub­li­can law­mak­ers aligned with the Kansas Cham­ber will con­trol the party cau­cuses in the

House and Se­nate, but their num­bers fall way short of ma­jori­ties in their re­spec­tive cham­bers. To ac­com­plish any­thing of sub­stance their lead­ers would have to con­vince Democrats or cen­trist Repub­li­cans, as well as the new gov­er­nor, to join them.

Kelly’s suc­cess will de­pend on work­ing ef­fec­tively with cen­trist Repub­li­cans and their lead­ers in the House and the Se­nate. Th­ese cen­trists will face chal­lenges in keeping their num­bers to­gether while nav­i­gat­ing the leg­isla­tive process with a friend­lier gov­er­nor and po­ten­tial al­lies across the aisle.

How­ever the leg­isla­tive process un­folds, Kansans should ex­pect Kelly to chart a more mod­er­ate course for Kansas:

In tone. Brown­back’s rhetor­i­cal pom­posi­ties (“shot of adren­a­line,” “a real live ex­per­i­ment,” “look out Texas”) will be re­tired to the dust­bin of his­tory.

School fund­ing. Out­stand­ing is­sues of con­cern

AAto the Kansas Supreme Court will be ad­dressed qui­etly and ef­fec­tively. Talk of a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment to stiff the court on school fi­nance will fade.

Taxes. Tax pol­icy will be guided by bal­ance and di­ver­sity in taxes — as­sur­ing lower tax rates over­all, re­duc­ing tax com­pe­ti­tion with other states and pro­mot­ing tax fair­ness based on in­come. Se­ri­ous at­ten­tion to cutting the sales tax on food will be un­der­way.

Ju­di­cial se­lec­tion. Any con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment propos­ing to re­place merit se­lec­tion of the Kansas Supreme Court judges with par­ti­san se­lec­tion will be dead. Con­sid­er­a­tion will be given to restor­ing by statute merit se­lec­tion of judges to the Kansas Court of Ap­peals.

Fed­eral aid. Fed­eral funds of as­sis­tance to vul­ner­a­ble Kansans will no longer be blocked by the gov­er­nor’s of­fice, as in the past. The ex­pan­sion of Med­ic­aid for low-in­come work­ing Kansans will move ahead.

Kansas vot­ers opted for a bi­par­ti­san path for­ward, and Gov­er­nor-elect Laura Kelly has an ex­tra­or­di­nary op­por­tu­nity to point the way.

AAAH. Edward Flen­tje is pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at Wi­chita State Univer­sity and served with Kansas Govs. Ben­nett and Hay­den.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.