HUTCHINSON — The signature issue for Gov. Jeff Colyer during his approximately seven years as lieutenant governor was overseeing KanCare, a Medicaid management system using private vendors.
Colyer expressed pride in ownership Wednesday.
"I saved $2 billion," he said. Visits to doctors are up, he said, and emergency room numbers and hospital stays are down.
Colyer made his remarks during a visit to Hutchinson that mixed state business and political campaigning. He took part in the ceremonial signing of State Fair legislation, ate supper at Skaets, and addressed Reno County Republicans at an open forum at Hutchinson Community College's Shears Technology Center.
Reno County Republicans have featured GOP gubernatorial candidates Jim Barnett, Ken Selzer and Kris Kobach at earlier gatherings, and it was Colyer's turn Wednesday as he spoke to an audience of about 30. The Aug. 7 GOP primary election ballot will contain seven candidates for governor. Colyer has held the top job for about 120 days in the wake of Gov. Sam Brownback's resignation. He wants to win a four-year term this fall.
"We're changing the tone," Colyer said. When he was a White House Fellow and observed President Ronald Reagan, he learned, he said, "When the glass is 80 percent full, you take it."
"You win and then you go on and you be gracious," Colyer said.
He intends to focus on growing Kansas, retaining Kansas' youth, keeping taxes low and simple, and cutting regulation. A plastic surgeon with a practice in Johnson County, Colyer said he has reduced that practice by about 95 percent since becoming governor, but the experience of having employees and running a business makes him "part of the real world."
In November, the Republican nominee for governor will be competing against a Democrat, Libertarian, and independent rivals. "We have to have a Republican governor for the next four year," Colyer said.
He cited several reasons: Redrawing of political boundaries will occur after the 2020 Census and under the next governor; Kansas is a party in a multi-state lawsuit against Planned Parenthood funding; and a dismemberment abortion bill is pending in court. "We are a pro-life state," Colyer said.
Colyer spoke enthusiastically about aviation research taking place in Kansas and the innovation in K-12 schools. As for his campaign, he said it's going "very well."