By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT
Paul Davis visited Hays on Saturday to join Fort Hays State University's homecoming parade and a Frontier Park rally supporting his campaign for governor.
The Democratic candidate and Kansas House of Representatives minority leader said restoring education funding would be his top priority if he is elected. Davis warned Governor Sam Brownback's continued leadership would force more government cuts.
"He said, when asked what he would do in his second term, 'he'd hit the accelerator on what he's been doing,' " Davis said. "You're going to see a situation where he's going to force cuts to schools, and he's going to take significant dollars out of our transportation plan, which is a proven job creator."
Local governments have been forced to raise other taxes after the governor initiated his campaign to slash income tax rates.
"If you look at what has happened as a result of the Brownback tax experiment, there has a been shift onto the property tax, and that shift has primarily occurred in a lot of rural communities and especially in western Kansas," Davis said.
He promised to freeze the tax rates in January to stabilize the state's fiscal condition.
The candidate vowed to collaborate with groups statewide to form plans for economic development because Brownback's "trickle down" approach cannot fit every situation
"We're going to listen to community leaders, business leaders, economic development professionals from around the state in crafting a way that we grow the economy ... communities really take the lead on economic development," he said.
Davis said he looks forward to the courts resolving the question of gay marriage in Kansas. He did not support the 2005 constitutional amendment banning it because he believed it hurt the state's welcoming image, but he respected voters' opinion.
Davis criticized the governor for linking him to President Barack Obama and asserted it reflects Brownback's desperation.
"Gov. Brownback is trying to do everything that he can to run a campaign that really isn't about his record as governor," Davis said. "He wants to try to nationalize the election and just talk about really anything other than education, the economy, taxes, health care."
Brownback's decision not to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act has presented serious challenges to rural hospitals' survival, Davis said. Other Republican governors accepted the program, and it can be adjusted to fit Kansas' specifications.
"I don't want parts of this state to see their access to health care eliminated because of somebody's who making a political decision," he said.
Davis also supported exempting non-medical care for individuals with developmental disabilities from the KanCare program because of reports about delayed or denied coverage. The candidate's governing vision includes Republican involvement.
"We will have the most bipartisan administration that the state has ever seen," Davis said. "I want to have a cabinet and administration that has got relatively equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats."