Tom Sawyer: Work together to benefit Kansas

Tom Sawyer
Special to Gannett Kansas
Tom Sawyer

When Gov. Kelly was elected, she committed to dig Kansas out of the financial chasm in which the previous administration had us buried. The Brownback tax experiment’s effects on Kansans are lasting and will take many years to overcome.

But Kelly’s governing philosophy is simple: Support Kansas schools, rebuild our infrastructure, balance the state’s budget and give our economic development agencies the necessary tools to create a competitive state; a dynamic location for businesses to build and grow.

From day one, her administration ceased the practice of borrowing money from the state highway fund to balance the budget and pledged to pay off the state’s debt. The establishment of a rainy-day fund and an ending balance in the state budget leave us better prepared to deal with emergencies. However, no one could predict that a rainy day would evolve into the most devastating public health crisis in over a century.

Kansas once again faces a significant budget shortfall. The economic impact of COVID-19 forced the governor to make budget allotments.

These choices will set the trajectory of our economic recovery.

Gov. Kelly has maintained the same commitment since day one, even throughout the threat to our state’s health and progress: rebuilding the foundation that is fundamental to pulling Kansas out of economic devastation. Education, infrastructure, business development — these are the building blocks that will keep Kansas on the path forward.

Promising to be “the education governor,” Kelly signed an education funding bill into law that ended years of litigation. She remains committed to a well-funded education system, knowing that our schools, students and teachers are essential to growing our workforce and economy and to the future of our state.

A historic $10 billion infrastructure bill, steered through the Legislature by Gov. Kelly, passed with overwhelming bipartisan approval. The program will transform our infrastructure, fast track efforts to expand high speed internet access and immediately create jobs — a critical piece of the puzzle to recovering from high unemployment rates as a result of COVID-19.

The financial fallout of COVID-19 has and will require difficult decisions — those decisions define leadership. Kansans elected Gov. Kelly because they trust in her to do what’s best for Kansas.

While we don’t know what the future holds, we do know that once this virus is behind us, it will be up to all of us to move our state forward. We must not give up; we cannot return to the disorganized and directionless approach of the last decade.

We must rely on ourselves, our good old Kansas resilience and perseverance, and work together, entrusting Gov. Kelly at the helm.

Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita, is the Kansas House minority leader.