At long last, the road to recovery begins, but it’s important to remember that this didn’t just happen by chance. It was possible because in 2016 the citizens of Kansas elected a much better legislature, and then they stayed engaged throughout a long and challenging session. It also happened because key leaders in both parties listened to their constituents, stepped up, and made the future of Kansas a top priority. That is why the votes were there to override the Governor’s veto. Raising revenue is never easy, and for some Republicans, going against their own Speaker and their own Governor was difficult. However, for the benefit of the entire country, the case of the failed Kansas fiscal experiment has proven (once again) that trickle-down economics does not work, and when voters are aware of the facts and realities, common sense and reason can prevail over rigid ideology and political entrenchment. In other words, facts matter. And, in the future, Kansas can continue to be a model for how to engage and overcome regressive policies and the “alternative facts” used to sell them.
The key leaders in the Senate were Senator Jeff Longbine, the elected Vice President of the Senate, and Minority Leader Senator Anthony Hensley. Very early in the process, they set aside partisan differences and openly worked together getting the necessary support in the Senate. In the House, I start with calling attention to the leadership of the tax committee, where much of the specifics were worked. Chair Steven Johnson and Ranking Minority member Tom Sawyer respected each other and closely worked together from the start, not always agreeing but always committed to a good final result. I also salute Majority Leader Don Hineman and Minority Leader Jim Ward. Don had the challenge of leading the Republicans with the Speaker who, except for the final vote, was against him. For Jim, keeping (for the most part) the 40 Democrats together (they all voted to override) was a challenge but key in getting 63 votes initially and 84 in the end. And the final critical component was the bipartisan Women's Caucus, who came together to work on a compromise that significantly influenced the bill that is now law. All Kansans can be grateful for and proud of their leadership.
I share this knowing many important decisions remain. But last night has made it possible for those decisions to be good for Kansas. I will close with this point. As I have shared many times, elections do have consequences. This great achievement would not have happened without the voters electing who they did in 2016. Keep that in mind as we move forward with the elections coming up in 2018 for both Governor and the House of Representatives.