One hundred days ago, I took the oath of office to become the 47th governor of Kansas. After taking that oath, I stood before you and declared I would work to turn the page and set a new tone in Topeka. As I reflect on these last 100 days, I am confident we are doing the right thing and that Kansas is on the right track.
Changing the tone in Topeka required essential changes from Day 1, including the pressing need to make changes at the state agencies including the replacement of several cabinet secretaries and a number of senior staffer members. One of the most crucial changes for me was the selection of Gina Meier-Hummel to serve as Secretary of DCF. Gina has taken the reins of a difficult agency and is leading it back in the right direction. She has already made substantive strides in improving the agency’s culture, work product and transparency that will improve the outcomes for our most vulnerable children and families.
Speaking of transparency, that issue has been at the forefront of our administration’s work so far. One of the first tasks we undertook when I became governor was to sign a series of executive orders aimed at making our state government more open and accountable to its citizens. We have continued to build upon those efforts at increasing transparency with a number of measures that make it easier to hold government accountable and provide Kansans with more information about how we do our work.
Most recently, I signed bills allowing the sharing of police body cam footage, the release of more information about child deaths from DCF, and to ensure we are more open about our hiring criteria.
When I became governor, I also declared the need to address the supreme court’s education ruling in a manner that would give our schools the resources they need and help us end the cycle of litigation on school finance. Before the session, I laid out a framework for an appropriate solution and the Legislature ultimately delivered a proposal to my desk that I was happy to sign. In the end, we increased K-12 education funding by nearly half a billion dollars, stair-stepped over five years that will not require in a tax increase.
This session avoided the rampant disagreements of recent years that resulted in lengthy sessions stretching into the summer months, and we successfully concluded this session in near record time.
Things have certainly changed in Topeka, and that change has allowed us to accomplish meaningful reforms for Kansans. Meaningful reforms including measures to increase transparency, fund tuition for our National Guard members, and help victims of domestic violence maintain critical cellular service.
Our leadership has also drawn the praise of former opponents, like Wichita’s Mark Hutton who, after suspending his campaign for governor, announced the administration’s demonstrated leadership had earned his endorsement.
Kansas is back on the rise. In fact, Standard and Poor’s recently indicated as much by revising their economic outlook for the state from “negative” to “stable.” This is a great sign that things are once again looking up for Kansas. But there is still much to do to ensure we remain on the path forward.
As I look back on the last hundred days, I am filled with anticipation for the next hundred. As your governor, I can pledge to you that I will continue to work to change the tone in Topeka and strive to deliver results to the people of this great state.
Jeff Colyer is Governor of Kansas.