As I learn about the release of the Governor’s budget on Wednesday and reflect back to what he said in the State of the State on Tuesday evening, I can’t help but think he must have been out of the state during the 2016 elections. Everyone who knows the true state of our state, or followed the happenings of the campaign, knows it was a change election. People want fiscal and other key issues addressed, and they elected a large number of new legislators for that reason.
So what do we hear from the Governor? Well, first of all, he says the entire world envies Kansas, using our sunrises and sunsets as his lead example. I must agree, they are one of our real attractions. But they don’t take care of the roads, make sure our public education system is best serving the needs of our younger generation, nor do they help balance the state budget.
As I watched his presentation, I got the feeling that Republicans in the legislature want more from him—as in, true leadership on the budget. There were key sections of his speech that got no applause, even from Republicans. Moderate Republican legislators certainly know the concerns of the public, because they heard them from their constituents throughout the election, and I think they are ready to help chart a new, more responsible course.
Even on some of his more substantive comments, there were real problems. Tuesday night he tried to convince us his 2017 and 2018 budgets were structurally balanced, meaning that not only was everything paid for but was on a solid path going forward. When the budget was released Wednesday, the truth is basically the administration hopes that by 2019 this statement will be accurate. It is no wonder why many Republicans are very concerned about the mess he and his very conservative legislative friends have made. Unfortunately, with his staying the course and the Senate unlikely to override vetoes, immediate corrections are not likely.
What this reinforces is the likelihood that really addressing the challenges we face may have to wait until after the 2018 election. Hopefully then a new Governor will be ready to provide real leadership, and we will have an even stronger House to achieve needed changes. For us now, the focus should be on re-electing successful 2016 candidates, supporting additional new candidates for the House (the Senators are not up for reelection in 2018), and having Gubernatorial candidates who are willing to make it clear that they support a moderate direction that wisely invests in our future.