State of the State in Kansas, 2022

This week saw vying assessments of Kansas and different visions for the future.

First, the transcript of Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s State of the State address as provided by her office. Video from C-SPAN is here Then, the response by the Kansas Republican Party.

Governor Laura Kelly Delivers the 2022 State of the State Address

TOPEKAThe following is the complete transcript of Governor Laura Kelly’s 2022 State of the State Address.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Madam Chief Justice, Lt. Governor Toland, statewide elected officials, members of the Legislature, Cabinet officers, leaders of the Kansas tribes, honored guests, and fellow Kansans.

After two years of challenges, of limited gatherings, it is my high honor to stand before you once again this evening to deliver my fourth State of the State Address.

To report on our shared successes.

And to present a blueprint for the final year of my first term.

Joining me tonight in the east gallery is the third “First Gentleman” in Kansas history, my husband, Ted Daughety.

Ted has retired from practicing medicine.

But he returned during the pandemic to support our state’s many dedicated healthcare professionals as they toiled to keep Kansans safe and healthy.

I’d also like to welcome my daughter Kathleen Daughety and my son-in-law Mathias Weiden. And I welcome, virtually, my other daughter Molly Daughety, who is watching online.

I also welcome and thank my Cabinet Secretaries who are seated behind me in the west gallery.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges for every agency – and I could not have asked for a better, more prepared team.

They have not only faced those challenges head on, but each of them has steered their agency to be more fiscally responsible, more nimble, more efficient and more responsive than ever before.

And finally, it is my pleasure to welcome Lt. Governor David Toland and Second Lady Beth Toland, to their first State of the State in their new capacities.

David took the reins as Lt. Governor last January after I appointed our former Lt. Governor, Lynn Rogers, to serve as our State Treasurer.

Lynn is a compassionate, hard-working, and dedicated public servant —- and he has been a fantastic Treasurer. Lynn has already returned more than $5 million dollars of unclaimed property to the rightful owners.

Thank you, Lynn, for your leadership and your continued service.

For the past three years, Lieutenant Governor Toland has worked tirelessly as the Secretary of the Department of Commerce.

He has spearheaded efforts to help small businesses weather the pandemic. He has rebuilt Commerce programs to – once again – make Kansas nationally and globally competitive.

I’m fortunate to have him by my side, as we continue to put his economic development expertise to good use for Kansans and Kansas communities.

Thank you, Lieutenant Governor.

It’s not just the Lt. Governor and my Executive Cabinet who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic.

All of you seated here are serving during a uniquely challenging moment in our state’s history.

And the work you’re putting in, the collaboration, is helping Kansas turn the corner, paving the way for a more prosperous future for all who choose to call this place home.

Needless to say, it has been an arduous couple of years for Kansas and the nation.

We’ve lost loved ones, coworkers, friends, and neighbors.

Unfortunately, we continue to lose too many Kansans to this virus.

But we also saw, and we continue to see, the very best of Kansas rise up in every corner of our state.

Our health care professionals have persevered, working long, hard hours, for weeks, then months, now years, to save lives. They continue to be our heroes.

Here with us tonight is one of our heroes: Whitney Freel, a charge nurse on the medical intensive care unit at Stormont Vail Hospital right here in Topeka.

Whitney, could you please stand for a moment.

Whitney and her fellow front-line workers have risked their own lives for nearly two years, working around the clock to keep Kansans safe.

Please know how grateful I am, how grateful Kansas is, for your dedicated service.

In every corner of our state, ordinary people continue to do extraordinary things.

The Kansas spirit of neighbor-helping-neighbor has never been stronger.

The people of Kansas are getting back on their feet. The state of Kansas is getting back on track.

However, right now, and likely for the next few months, the threat of COVID-19 remains, particularly for the unvaccinated and the immuno-compromised.

While the long-term outlook is much more positive with the new Omicron variant, our hospitals and nursing homes have sounded the alarm.

Rising case numbers from the winter holidays and Omicron have created the toughest surge the medical community has faced since the pandemic began in 2020.

Last week, I issued two new executive orders that create staffing flexibility to keep residents, patients, and staff safe.

It will be imperative that we work together to quickly extend my orders through legislation to help our nursing homes and our hospitals.

For those of you watching at home, I ask that all of you think of your family, your friends, and our front-line health care workers.

Help each other by getting vaccinated, getting your children vaccinated, and getting the third shot.

This is how you keep yourself – and those around you – healthy.

We owe it to each other.

Folks, we are going to get through this.

Since we began the fight against this pandemic, we’ve taken a clear-eyed, balanced approach – acting responsibly to stop the spread of the virus, while also ensuring that our Kansas economy grows and stays strong.

And because we managed our budget responsibly and saw record economic growth and investment in our state, I’m now proud to say we have the largest budget surplus in the past 40 years.

That’s the largest surplus in 40 years all while balancing the budget and fully funding our schools.

Whereas, just a few years ago, Kansas was making headlines for its budget mismanagement – I believe Kansas is now the most fiscally responsible state in the nation.

We’ve paid down state debts.

And we’re adding $600 million dollars to the state’s Rainy Day fund, the most money that’s ever been put in there.

Growing the Rainy Day Fund is the responsible thing to do.

To make sure critical services like schools and law enforcement are always funded even if our economy takes a turn for the worse.

Because we’ve managed the budget so responsibly, I was proud to announce that every working Kansan who filed taxes in 2021 will get a $250 dollar rebate this year – $500 dollars for married couples filing jointly.

That’s money back in your pocket to pay for child care, to take your family on a minivacation, or to buy groceries.

While we’re on the topic of groceries….

Here’s something we all know: Food in Kansas costs families way too much.

And even as we sit here with a record surplus, Kansans continue to pay higher taxes on groceries than anyone in the country.

It makes no sense.

For years, many of us, on both sides of the aisle, have been calling for an end to the state’s sales tax on food.

Now, with this surplus in the bank and increased revenue because of our economic growth, we can finally, responsibly, afford to totally eliminate the grocery sales tax.

I’ve called on the legislature to send a bill to my desk to end this tax, once and for all.

It will save Kansas families hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars a year.

This is a commonsense policy on which Democrats and Republicans can completely agree.

The only obstacle that could block this legislation is the same type of toxic political games that have poisoned Washington D.C. …. where denying a political opponent a win has become more important than getting things done for the people they represent.

We are better than that in Kansas.

Let’s not overcomplicate this.

The essence of the bill can be summed up in 13 words:

We hereby eliminate the state sales tax on food in Kansas, effective immediately.

Just 13 words.

Send me a clean, bi-partisan bill, that eliminates the state sales tax on food by Kansas Day, January 29th.

I’ll sign it the moment it hits my desk.

We must not delay. Every day we delay costs Kansas families money, each and every day.

It will be a win for every one of you in this room. And, much more importantly, a win for working Kansans.

And, we know working families need a break, particularly, after the last two years.

This pandemic has created so many strains, so many stressors, and so many challenges, we simply cannot let it derail the careers or the dreams of our young people.

That’s why we have remained laser-focused – to protect their futures.

That meant upholding my promise to bring fiscal sanity back to our state government.

It wasn’t easy, and not a day has gone by that I haven’t been tasked with making tough financial decisions.

But our resolve to keep the state checkbook balanced is paying off in a big way.

Today I’m announcing that my budget includes a total freeze on college tuition increases.

You heard that right. No tuition increases whatsoever.

This virus took something from our students. And, we are going to give them something back.

Again, it’s a huge win for our young people and for all working Kansans.

These are the types of things we can do when our state’s economy is growing the way it is.

And it is economic growth we should all be proud of.

Look at where we are…

We’ve created more than 30,000 new jobs. That’s 30,000 – even during a pandemic.

Our unemployment rate has been below 4 percent for over a year.

And in 2021 alone, the private sector invested nearly $3.8 billion dollars in new facilities and equipment.

That’s a new state record. By a long shot.

That means: new businesses coming to our state.

Existing businesses expanding.

Big companies opening new divisions.

Small businesses hiring new employees.

It means jobs for Kansans living in our cities.

And in our suburbs. And in our rural communities.

Our small businesses are growing.

Our big companies are hiring hundreds of new employees and expanding, like Hilmar Cheese in Dodge City, Superior Boiler in Hutchinson and the Schwan’s Pizza Plant in Salina.

And big national companies, like Urban Outfitters, are choosing to build distribution centers here – because we have a strong economy and the best workforce in the nation.

Listen to this…

Over the past three years, we have secured a total of more than $7.6 billion dollars in new business investments in Kansas.

That’s more than any previous administration’s total in the entirety of their first term – and we still have another year left.

Remember several years back, Kansas was in the national news for all the wrong reasons.

Well, in 2019, we were back in the national news – but this time as CNBC’s Comeback State of the Year.

And in 2021, Kansas was recognized with the prestigious Gold Shovel Award – a national award given to Governors who lead the way in attracting job-creating investments to their states.
There’s more economic opportunity in the state of Kansas today than at any time in our history.

And Kansans should really take pride in the role they have played in helping our state and, all of the nation, successfully navigate through this pandemic.

Everyone here knows this: Kansas processes 25% of the nation’s highest quality beef.

If our meatpacking plants had shut down during the pandemic, it would’ve created a food crisis for our entire country.

We really couldn’t let that happen.

So, during those first days and weeks of the pandemic, I partnered with then-Senator, Pat Roberts, who was chair of the senate ag committee. Together, Senator Roberts and I worked with President Trump to make sure our meat-packing plants stayed open, safely.

It wasn’t about political party, it was about keeping Kansans who feed our nation, and the world, on the job.

As a result, Kansas was the only state in the nation to keep our major meatpacking plants open during the entirety of the pandemic.

I’d like to thank our federal delegation, particularly Representative Sharice Davids and former Senator Pat Roberts, for their hard work in making that happen.

After all, we know that the agriculture industry is the lifeblood of our economy. And farmers are truly the heartbeat of our state.

Right now, our hearts go out to the Kansas farmers and ranchers who have lost their livestock, their crops, and even, in some cases, their own homes to wildfires.

I want you to know we’re doing everything in our power to provide relief to restore your livestock, and rebuild your farms, your ranches, and your lives.

With us here tonight is Russell County Emergency Manager Keith Haberer.

Keith, could you please stand for a moment.

Keith has been a firefighter and an emergency manager in Russell for more than 20 years.

During the recent wildfires, I witnessed how hard Keith worked to help the people in his community stay safe.

For weeks he’s been working nonstop. He coordinated the county’s response to the raging fires and delivered resources to the families, farmers and ranchers who were impacted by the devastation.

He is one of the thousands of first responders all across the state: our firefighters, our law enforcement, our national guard, and our EMTs, who step up when a crisis hits.

Thank you Keith, for your service to your neighbors and to your community.

Our farming and ranching families are lucky to have men and women like Keith, who stand ready to provide support when times are tough.

This administration is equally committed to supporting our agriculture industry.

Whether it is through:

Being the only Democratic Governor in the country to support the USMCA trade agreement;

Responding to COVID-related challenges;

Or adding Short Line rail projects to move product to market more cost effectively, more efficiently.

But still, we know that farming isn’t getting any easier – particularly with the natural disasters and global supply chain challenges.

But we also know, our farmers and ranchers are the most resilient people on earth.

As I travel across Kansas, the stories I hear are so inspiring.

Farmers like Vance and Louise Ehmke, owners of Ehmke Seed in Lane County.

They took over the family farm in the mid ’70s, as the fourth generation of Ehmkes to operate it.

Now Louise is a Democrat from California, and Vance is a Republican from right here in Kansas. The two met while students at Bethany College in Lindsborg.

Recently, the Ehmkes celebrated 50 years of a happy, bi-partisan, marriage.

And they’re with us tonight. I’d like to have Louise and Vance, representing all Kansas farmers and ranchers, please stand to be recognized.

You know, Louise and Vance are still out there each morning with their fellow farmers and ranchers, rain or shine, snow or sleet.

That toughness, that grit, that sense of pride, so often passed from one generation to the next …. that’s what makes Kansas farmers so special.

Now, looking ahead, I’m excited to share with you that my budget this year also restores full funding to the State Water Plan for the first time in 15 years.

The water plan is a five-year blueprint for action that will ensure that we have a reliable, quality water supply to support not only the needs of Kansas communities, but a thriving farming economy.

Because everyone in this room knows, as I do, that agriculture built the Kansas economy, and it will always be the backbone of our state.

And, despite all of the obstacles that our farmers and ranchers have faced, and thanks to their unrivaled persistence, Kansas is on its way to another record year of agricultural exports.

In fact, we’ll surpass the $4 billion-dollar mark in exports for the second consecutive year.

A feat not accomplished in nearly a decade.

Four billion dollars. That’s a big deal.

Growing our rural economy has been a major focus of my Administration.

Our efforts to rebuild our rural economy began day one when we established the Office of Rural Prosperity.

We then moved expeditiously to re-start the Kansas Mainstreet program – to help our rural communities keep their downtowns vibrant.

We cherish our Main Streets – as the heart of our communities, the cultural centers of our communities, and as their economic engines.

And, if we’ve learned anything these past couple of years about doing business in this day and age, it’s that if you don’t have access to high-speed Internet – you are going to get left behind.

When I got into office, Kansas was way behind the eight ball on broadband development.

The state had no roadmap, no funding, and no plan.

So, we established the Office of Broadband Development, and now, we have expanded internet access to over 50,000 new households and businesses. We’ve connected rural communities that were frustrated for years by the lack of access.

During the pandemic, hotspots were strategically deployed to ensure that our students in low-income households could continue their education remotely.

We won’t stop until every Kansan who wants, or needs, high-speed Internet has access to it.

For as much as rural Kansas – all of Kansas for that matter – needs a strong information superhighway, they also need better actual highways.

The type you drive on to get your product to market, to get to work, or get your kids to school.

Sadly, for the past 10 years, politicians have taken money that was supposed to go for roads and bridges and instead used it to clean up the mess created by the tax experiment.

The highway fund became known as: “the Bank of K-DOT.”

Well, it’s not a bank. It’s been a slush fund.

And this year the slush fund goes away, and the “bank” closes for good.

We’ll make sure that money meant for roads and bridges is actually used for roads and bridges.
We have already completed numerous projects across Kansas, and many others are in the pipeline.

They are important projects like:

The widening of U.S. 69 from a two-lane to a four-lane expressway in Crawford and Bourbon Counties.

This project completes the much-needed, long-overdue, 4-lane highway from Kansas City to Pittsburg. A promise made years ago, and, now, finally kept.

Late last year, we announced design modifications in Johnson County for K-10 that will improve a stretch of highway serving 65,000 drivers per day.

In Wichita – the state has partnered, for several years with the city, the County, and the federal government to finish the $86 million North Junction project.

When completed, it will, finally, alleviate Wichita’s worst bottleneck. Every member of the Sedgwick County delegation sitting here tonight knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Now new road projects like North Junction don’t always create splashy headlines.

But they do make communities safer.

They do create jobs.

They do stimulate economic activity.

And, they change the very quality of life for residents who rely on these roads every day.

While we’re on the subject of improving quality of life for the people of Kansas, we cannot forget about our health care systems and our hospitals.

For years, we’ve debated Medicaid expansion….. round and round.

Folks, medicaid expansion is the quickest, the easiest, and the most common sense way to help Kansans.

And we’re not just talking about 150,000 Kansans accessing quality, affordable health care.

The fact is, communities can’t grow or survive if their hospitals close.

Kansas has lost five hospitals in recent years.

We can’t afford to lose another.

We owe it to our rural families and businesses.

Medicaid expansion won’t just protect small towns and their residents, it will keep health care professionals from moving to neighboring states – most of which are Red states – all of which have expanded Medicaid.

Right now, we’re the stubborn, self-defeating, state in the middle of all of them, we are sabotaging our rural communities and their efforts to recruit new jobs and residents. We are shooting ourselves in the foot.

Medicaid expansion is something we can do right now.

It is well past time. Let’s get this done.

A strong health care system will always be a hallmark of a healthy state and a healthy economy.

Just as important, however, is the strength of our public education system.

Four years ago, when I ran for office, I ran to be the Education Governor.

After years of budget cuts and neglect, Kansas needed one.

And, now, I am proud to say, that for the Fourth straight year: we are fully funding our public schools.

And, we are doing it with a balanced budget.

Because it’s not an either-or.

We can balance the budget while also funding our schools, fixing our roads and bridges, funding other essential services, investing in economic development.
The full funding of our schools is something everyone in this Chamber can celebrate.

But, I also know that, for these past couple of years, during the pandemic, the challenges facing our schools have gone way beyond just funding.

Last year, in my State of the State, I spoke directly to teachers – who – nearly overnight – reinvented the way they taught, doing whatever it took to educate our children during the pandemic’s worst days.

We’ve worked hard to get everyone back in the classroom, but the job of a teacher hasn’t gotten any easier. If anything, it’s more difficult and more stressful.

Teachers have always deserved our deepest gratitude, our respect, and our support.

To all the Kansas teachers out there, we thank you. We applaud you.

This year, I’d also like to take a moment to speak directly to Kansas parents. Especially those with school-aged children.

You have been through a lot these past couple of years. A whole lot.

Now I have two daughters, both well out of the house – thank goodness – but I often think about what it would have been like if they were still young and had been at home during the pandemic.

I know it would have been incredibly hard to balance their education and my job.

It would have been hard dealing with their losses not being able to hang out with their friends, not going to birthday parties, not participating in graduation ceremonies.

And with this virus, particularly because it has gone on for so long, sometimes, you feel like there’s no right answer.

When all you really want is to do right by your children, to have a voice, to have a say, in the decisions that impact their lives.

I want you to know that I’ve heard you. I have approached decisions I’ve made not only as a Governor, but also as a parent.

I know, with all the ways this virus has changed and keeps changing our lives it can be difficult to keep up.

This has been unchartered territory.

This pandemic has deprived our kids of a normal childhood for far too long.

That’s why our Department of Wildlife and Parks, together with our Tourism Division, partnered with the State Department of Education to launch the Kansas Sunflower Summer program.

This program provided kids and their families the opportunity to visit all of our state’s firstclass attractions: our museums, our parks, our zoos:free of charge.

In total, more than 70,000 Kansans participated in the program. Sunflower Summer was so successful that we have every intention, to not only do it again next summer – but also to expand it.

Our schools are now open and they will stay open, but the Sunflower Summer program helped make this uneasy time a little more manageable, a little more affordable, and a little more normal.

Back in the classrooms, we also know our kids are feeling the lingering effects of the pandemic.

Not every parent has the means to help their children get the attention or the tools they need to fill the learning gaps created by the pandemic.

Just yesterday, we announced a bipartisan agreement to allocate $50 million dollars in Learning Recovery Grants for students who need that extra help to get caught up.

These grants will give parents the ability to sign their kids up for counseling, tutoring, summer camps, whatever their child needs to close the learning gap.

We can’t turn back the clock on the last two years, but we can lay out the path to support parents and put students in the best position to find success.

Another thing on the minds of parents these days is not having to worry about their child’s safety.
I know I’m speaking for parents when I say that the world is a whole lot bigger and much more complicated than when we were growing up.

We sense it as leaders as well, and I’ve made protecting children and keeping them safe a top priority as Governor.

That starts by supporting our law enforcement officers.

My budget contains historic levels of funding for law enforcement.

Funding that will provide better equipment, better training facilities, and greater public safety.

And for our state highway patrol – a much deserved pay-increase.

We’re also increasing funding for evidence-based juvenile delinquency programs, so we can reach these kids before it’s too late and keep them out of the system.

There’s no question that as the world has changed, it has become harder to be a kid.

From social media pressures, to life during a pandemic, growing up in 2022 is a lot more complicated, and difficult.

Imagine, dealing with all that they have to deal with – and what’s happened over the last 2 years – while also being a child in foster care.

When I took office, our foster care system was a mess.

It was an embarrassment, it was immoral and it did not reflect how Kansans value and cherish their children.

It wasn’t going to be easy.

But I knew if we were going to create real accountability, that we would have to pull the curtain back and do a full, honest assessment of our foster care system and make the necessary and critical changes, to protect our kids.

And after three years, we have made significant progress.

We have decreased the number of children in foster care by over 15 percent. That’s one thousand fewer kids in the system.

That progress started with the tireless work done by Secretary Laura Howard and her team at the Department for Children and Families.

They studied the mistakes of the past and they took an intentional approach, to move the state away from a child welfare system and toward a child and family well-being system.

Secretary Howard directed the agency to focus on things like kinship care, where a child is placed with a family member or a very close family friend, instead of being placed in the system.

Kansas was also one of the first states in the nation to implement the Family First Prevention Services Act.

This program provides support services for struggling parents to increase their ability to care for their own children, in their own home, rather than in the foster care system.

Just last year, I signed an executive order creating the Division of Child Advocate.

The Child Advocate will ensure that the progress we have made is not fleeting or subject to political manipulation.

The advocate will ensure an independent, accountable system to investigate complaints, to help families navigate a very complex system, and act as a data-resource for further improvement of the system.

Most importantly, the child advocate will make sure kids in our care are healthier and safer.

The Division of Child Advocate has been a deeply bipartisan effort and would not have been possible without the support and input of legislators and stakeholders on both sides of the aisle.

I know some of you here have spent years working to get this issue over the finish line, and I’m grateful for your efforts.

Likewise, an area where we should be able to find common ground is our state’s mental health system.
Whether we talk about children or their parents, veterans or farmers, small business owners or health care workers, this pandemic has exacerbated mental health challenges for so many Kansans.

That’s why I’ve included additional funding in my budget, to make it easier for local communities to provide critical mental health services closer to home, and reduce the strain on our law enforcement agencies, our jails and our hospital emergency rooms.

It will save lives and it will protect our communities.

I know many of you care deeply about this issue, and I look forward to working with you to create a mental health system in Kansas that is second to none.

Speaking about second to none, as you all know, just last month, we lost our proudest native son, Bob Dole.

Senator Dole was a passionate voice for Kansas. He was also a passionate voice for an entire generation, the greatest generation.

In fact, it’s because of people like Bob Dole that the greatest generation got its name.

Senator Dole once told us: “In politics, honorable compromise is no sin. It is what protects us from absolutism and intolerance.”

Senator Dole also said: “When it’s all over, it’s not about who you were, it’s about whether you made a difference.”

These are words we should all keep close to our hearts.

Whether you made a difference.

Now, if you only looked at social media, you’d think nothing gets done around here, at all … just a bunch of bickering.

But the truth is – that’s not the case.

Thanks to the good work of the people in this Chamber, I have signed 187 bipartisan bills.

Let’s look at the list:

• A bi-partisan bill to fully fund our public schools.

• A bi-partisan transportation plan, which will lead to 130 new infrastructure projects.

• A bi-partisan scholarship program for our students in high-demand, highskilled fields.

• A bi-partisan bill that extends the tax credit program that helps Kansas startups succeed.

• A bi-partisan bill to support our military families and encourage them to stay in Kansas.

• A bi-partisan emergency loan program to help families and businesses pay their utility bills when they skyrocketed last February.

The list goes on and on.

When we think back several years, and reflect on why things in Kansas went so far in the wrong direction, it’s because we weren’t prioritizing what Kansans want and what they need.

Kansans want their government to focus on the day-to-day needs that most of us can agree on – and not on the ideological issues, or the culture wars, that divide us.

That means they want:

New businesses that bring good jobs.

Strong public schools.

Roads that don’t wreck their cars.

Safe communities.

Access to basic health care.

A balanced budget.

And when possible, and when responsible, tax relief to help working families.

When I talk to Kansans from all political parties in all corners of the state, the most common theme I hear is: “I am so sick and tired of all the political fighting.”

And usually, they’re not talking about the people in this building.

They’re talking about in their own lives.

And the feeling that politics now dominates everything.

The friendships that are being torn apart.

Social media feeds you’re afraid to look at anymore.

Family members you can barely talk to.

Politics rearing its ugly head in our children’s schools.

I’m sure all of you in this room can think of people in your lives who, just a few years ago, you could have a civil conversation and talk about the issues of the day – and now, you really can’t.

It’s all become so toxic.

Now the people in this Chamber didn’t cause this problem. Much bigger forces are at play.

But the people in this Chamber can be part of the solution.

We can turn down the temperature.

We can be civil and compromise.

We can be role models for our children.

We can put allegiance to Kansans ahead of allegiance to political party.

We can be as good and as decent as the people who sent us here.

Now, some of you may know that I am a baseball fan.

And one of the great joys of my life was spending a day, 20-some years ago, with the great Buck O’Neil, at the Negro League Museum.

Buck was an iconic player for the Kansas City Monarchs, but his larger contributions to baseball and to this country came in his later years, when he lead the campaign to establish the Negro League Museum.

He did it to make sure we never forget those players, the injustices they faced, and their rightful place in history.

Buck passed away about fifteen years ago, at the age 94.

Just a few weeks ago, we learned that Buck was, posthumously, voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame to, finally, be honored alongside the game’s very best.

Long overdue in my opinion, and it’s a shame he wasn’t alive to see it.

But Buck was an eternal optimist, even toward the end of a life that had had so many hardships.

One of Buck’s more delightful sayings was:

“Hold hands with the person next to you. That way, they can’t get away. And neither can you.”

So, let us all hold hands these next few months.

And not let go until we finally get things done.

God bless our great and beloved state of Kansas.

Thank you and goodnight.


Kansas Republican Party Responds to Gov. Kelly’s State of the State
Calls her speech and recent activity a “desperate election-year transformation”

TOPEKA, KS – The Kansas Republican Party today issued the following statement in response to Governor Laura Kelly’s State of the State address:

“After years of lockdowns, mandates, school closures, and criminalizing religious worship while protecting abortion clinics, Governor Kelly has determined her path to re-election is a complete political transformation,” said Shannon Pahls, Kansas GOP Executive Director.

“Her strategy is flawed because Kansans aren’t easily fooled and they don’t easily forget. Kansas families are still picking up the pieces after her lockdowns destroyed one-third of all small businesses and the paychecks they delivered. Kansas parents are worried for their children, who have fallen behind academically, emotionally, and socially after a year or more of remote learning and mandatory masking. Her desperate election-year transformation can’t change the reality Kansas families are dealing with tonight as a result of her failures, and that’s why our state is ready for a change.”

In addition to the above comment, see Speaker Ron Ryckman’s Response HERE.

Background on Governor Kelly’s Election Year Transformation:

BIPARTISANSHIP: Governor Kelly is in the midst of a total election year transformation, hoping Kansans will forget her actual track record. In reality, her term has been nearly indistinguishable from other liberal Democrat governors from California to Michigan. Last year, she continuously opposed commonsense bills coming out of the Republican-led Legislature, vetoing a record number of eight bills – the most since 2004 – including:

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act
Legislation to improve civics education
Tax relief spurring economic development in Kansas
Election integrity measures
Conceal and carry reforms

COVID MANDATES: Governor Kelly operated as a lockdown and mandate governor throughout the COVID pandemic, even attempting to criminalize attending religious gatherings on Easter Sunday in 2020. She continued to issue statewide mask mandates into the spring of 2021 before she was eventually overruled by the Republican-led Legislature. Her epiphany on opposing government COVID mandates happened to come a mere 36 hours after her party lost the Virginia governor’s race. Now, that she’s in the midst of trying to save her own job, she’s hoping Kansans will forget that her lockdown policies killed thousands of Kansas jobs and small businesses. Spoiler alert: they won’t.

ECONOMY & JOBS: Governor Kelly and Lieutenant Governor David Toland want Kansans to believe 2020 was a “blockbuster year” for our state and that our economy is thriving under their leadership. In reality, their administration’s lockdowns killed a third of small businesses and nearly half of restaurants and hotels in the state. Under their leadership, Kansas ranked among the top ten most moved-out-of-states in 2020 and is one of only 17 states to lose population to start this decade. For those who still live here, Kansas continues to rank in the bottom half of the country in pandemic job recovery.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Governor Kelly continues to try and take credit for economic development spurred by the pro-growth, pro-business, pro-family tax relief she vetoed multiple times in 2021 before Republicans in the Legislature overrode her. Taking the wrong position on an issue, being overridden by the Legislature, and then taking credit for the eventual success continues to be a hallmark of Kelly’s governorship and the centerpiece of her re-election campaign.

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: Governor Kelly claims to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars, but in reality, Kelly’s Department of Labor squandered $700 million to fraudsters overseas while unemployed Kansans (because of her lockdowns) couldn’t get through to obtain the benefits they needed to pay bills.

FOOD TAX: Governor Kelly is making yet another campaign promise to cut the food sales tax, but despite making similar campaign promises before she was elected, she ultimately vetoed a GOP bill to reduce taxes on groceries for Kansas families in 2019. She also hopes Kansans forget that she’s responsible for a portion of their high tax burden in the first place, having voted for the largest increase in sales taxes in state history in 2010 as a state senator. In fact, she only proposed her ‘axe the food tax’ plan in November days after Attorney General Schmidt called on the Legislature to reduce or eliminate the sales tax on groceries. Kelly campaigns one way on the food tax and governs the exact opposite.

$250 REBATE: Governor Kelly is proposing a one-time election-year tax rebate solely designed to win votes, but in 2021 she vetoed a $500 increase in the standard deduction for Kansas tax filers that would have provided greater relief to Kansans in the long term. Kelly is once again trying to repackage a proposal from the Republican-led Kansas Legislature that she’s previously rejected in order to trick Kansans and salvage her re-election.

IN-PERSON LEARNING: Governor Kelly claims to be a pro-education governor, but in reality, she is a pro-NEA governor. Kelly is completely beholden to the whims of teachers’ unions who are funding her re-election effort and continue to push remote learning – despite ample data showing its harmful effects and the extremely low risk to children posed by COVID-19. She was the first governor in the country to shut down in-person learning in March 2020 and she even tried to block in-person learning in the fall of 2020 (despite the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommending in-person learning by June 2020). Kelly’s remote learning plan was eventually overridden by the state school board.

CRITICAL RACE THEORY: Governor Kelly has dismissed parents’ legitimate concerns about critical race theory and other political indoctrination in Kansas schools as a “nothing burger.” In doing so, and in failing to mention the issue in her speech tonight, Kelly continues to kowtow to her campaign benefactors at the NEA, who support attacking parents that oppose CRT in schools. Parents’ concerns are real, and they matter. Kelly’s insistence that they aren’t real is yet another example of Laura Kelly’s re-election strategy centering around insulting the intelligence of Kansas voters.

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