In the official Democratic response to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s State of the State speech released Tuesday night, Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward sought to work with his colleagues across the aisle to reach solutions as they did last session when the Legislature overrode the Governor’s veto on tax increases.
“There’s a danger of the Legislature falling back into traditional partisanship that originally got us into this mess,” said Ward. “I’m looking forward to maintaining and building upon the successful bipartisan coalition to address the challenges facing us this year. I’m willing to partner with anyone willing to join us in common sense solutions and reject the too frequent position of those who insist it is their way or the highway. They’re the ones holding our state back.”
Ward spoke about school funding in broad strokes.
“Our future as a great state depends on the education of our children being done right,” Ward said. “Each and every child in Kansas deserves a chance to pursue their God-given talents regardless of where they live. We need to ensure teachers have the tools they need to teach. The Kansas Supreme Court spoke in October saying that not enough is being done for our children’s schools under the Constitution. It has given the Legislature an April 30 deadline to submit a new funding plan and then they will rule on that plan before June 30. We must get to work on this immediately.”
Ward then moved on to a topic Brownback did not address in his speech, Medicaid expansion.
“Every Kansan should be able to afford to see a doctor when they are sick,” Ward said. “It’s the right thing to do and it will be the most important economic development tool this Legislature can pass. Expanding Medicaid is part of the answer, and we must do it this year.”
Expanding Medicaid has been a central issue for Ward these last few years and a bill to do it passed last year, but was vetoed by Governor Brownback.