Kansas gubernatorial candidate Ken Selzer and his running mate Jen Sanderson visited Great Bend on Thursday to attend the Chamber Coffee, followed by a visit to the Great Bend Tribune.
One of several candidates in the upcoming Republican primary, Selzer said he and Sanderson would be champions for agriculture in their mission to change the way Kansas government does business.
“We know agriculture better than any of the other candidates,” Selzer said.
He has also promised to run Kansas government more efficiently. Selzer is a CPA and was elected as the Kansas Insurance Commissioner in 2014.
“I’m a CPA and a businessman. We are running for governor because we did a good job in controlling costs and improving productivity and customer service in the Kansas Insurance Department. We have a governor who is not focused on managing the $7 billion state budget,” he said.
Selzer also promised to be “a full-time governor” if elected. “Our current governor works as a plastic surgeon in Overland Park. Kansas needs a governor who will focus on Kansas issues 100 percent of the time.” Sanderson will also focus on serving Kansas 100 percent of the time, he added.
He summarized his platform as: “More accountability, more focus on efficient spending and a greater emphasis on making Kansas grow.”
Selzer and Sanderson have the endorsements of small- and mid-size mayors in cities such as Dodge City, Goodland, Mulvane and Marysville, he said.
“We know we can run state government more efficiently and we would focus on making Kansas grow,” he said. “That starts with being a champion for agriculture and a champion for rural communities in Kansas.” A blue ribbon ag committee is already working on their campaign as they look at ways to develop new markets and build value in agriculture-related products.
Taxes and spending
“We will always lean in on costs to make Kansas more productive and more efficient so that we do not need a higher property tax rate,” he said. “The expenses in the Kansas budget are growing at a rate far faster than our economy is growing. We need to control costs and make Kansas grow to avoid tax increases. We will not allow a property tax rate increase at the state level. Any new sales taxes that might be derived from internet sales must go to reducing the food sales tax or the sales tax rate overall.”
Sanderson is a businesswoman and has served as chairwoman of Leadership Kansas Board of Trustees and as president of the endowment foundation of Northwest Kansas Area Technical College.
“I’m a mom. I care about Kansas’ future,” she said.
“We are finding the public-private partnerships are a great tool in training/educating our workforce,” she said. “Out-migration goes on and on,” she said. “We’re at the point where we have to address it.” Community colleges and technical schools are successful in training high school graduates for careers in their communities, and high schools are also talking to community leaders to learn what’s needed in the area. “Great Bend is a great example of kids graduating with certificates.”
“There needs to be accountability throughout the system,” Selzer said. Early education, K-12 and secondary education all need to be more accountable for how they use their money and for better aligning their output with the job needs in the local communities.
That’s true for other government offices as well, he said, citing the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Department of Corrections as two examples.
“I would strongly prefer not to expand Medicaid coverage,” Selzer said. His concern is the cost and the fact that about 45 percent of the people who would become eligible through expansion of KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program, already have health insurance, so the state government would be competing with private markets.
“It would only be done if there was a robust job requirement,” he said. “Most are working-age, able-bodied adults,” he said. He would require them to be working, looking for work, training for work or doing community service.
“Our Medicaid budget in Kansas has grown faster than other states around us,” he said. “The federal government almost shut down KanCare because it wasn’t being managed. That will change. There will be more accountability throughout Kansas government.”
The state’s infrastructure is another important issue. Everything from roads, rails and aviation to broadband service needs attention, but much of the money earmarked for infrastructure is being swept into other funds. “Kansas needs quality infrastructure. We need to stop those sweeps,” Selzer said.
“Taxpayers want to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely and are achieving goals that need to be met,” Selzer said. “Many taxpayers now believe that they are simply throwing money away on programs and projects that are not efficiently managed. That will change when the lieutenant governor and I are in office.”