By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT
Gov. Sam Brownback's second-in-command visited Hays on Tuesday and urged voters to stay the course his administration has plotted.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a Hays native, said signs point to economic growth. Approximately 58,000 private-sector jobs have been created since January 2011, and the state's unemployment rate is 4.8 percent.
"Are we moving forward? That 58,000 number of new private-sector employees, that's an important signal on that," he said.
Colyer vowed to support education.
"Our commitment to you is that we will continue to put additional funds in K-12 education," he said.
Following the Kansas Supreme Court's order for the state to boost education funding, the Kansas Legislature increased it $125 million and changed a state law that once automatically granted teachers tenure.
Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick, who accompanied Colyer, said the changes gave local school districts more power.
"We gave local control back to the school districts. I'm wondering how we as a Legislature ruffled feathers," he said. "We gave you more money -- the biggest funding package they've had since I've been in the Legislature. How locals decide to use that money is a local issue. What they do with tenure is a local issue."
Colyer said Brownback's tax policy is aimed at combating population loss and companies moving out of state for better business environments. The governor's vision cut tax rates and consolidated tax brackets.
"We cut taxes for everybody," Colyer said. "We cut property taxes, we cut sales taxes and we cut income taxes for every single working Kansan."
The lieutenant governor asked for patience as Brownback's economic plan unfolds.
"We have never said that, 'You do this, immediately we're going to be in nirvana and everything's good,' " he said. "It takes time."
Colyer suggested the tax plan offered by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis will raise taxes on the lowest income-earners. The group is set for a tax cut underneath Brownback's policy.
He affirmed his administration's family and business values.
"We want Kansas to be the best place to have a small business and the best place to have a family," he said. "I have teenage daughters that are going to have kids in a few years. I want to see my grandkids here."
The general election is Nov. 4.