Capitol Update: In opening days of Kelly administration, Rep. Stogsdill sees ‘opportunity to put last 8 years behind us’

Rep. Jerry Stogsdill.

Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Jerry Stogsdill, Rep. Susan Ruiz and Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Rep. Stogsdill’s filing:

Hope springs eternal! The first week of the 2019 session of the Kansas Legislature started off on a very positive note with the swearing in of new Democratic Governor Laura Kelly and Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers. It was a day of celebration, renewed hope for the state of Kansas and an evening gala that attracted an overflow crowd of 2,500 celebrants. The crowd attending the gala represented the interests, the diversity and the hopes of all Kansans who are looking forward to new leadership and an opportunity to put the last eight years of the Brownback disaster behind us. They are anxious to start rebuilding our state and taking Kansas back to a place of national prominence. It was indeed a happy, much anticipated and unifying event.

On Wednesday Governor Kelly gave an inspirational, pragmatic and visionary State of the State address. She reaffirmed her commitment to seeing our public schools fully funded, our teachers paid a professional wage and our students having access to the quality education they will need to become productive citizens in a 21st century world economy.

Governor Kelly also stressed the need to expand Medicaid which will bring access to affordable, available and adequate healthcare to ALL Kansans. It will also guarantee that our federal tax dollars will be returned to OUR state to assist in alleviating healthcare costs for the citizens of Kansas. Under the previous administration Kansas lost out on the opportunity to have 3 billion of our federal tax dollars returned to Kansas. Instead those tax dollars went to other states which had the wisdom to expand their Medicaid programs.

Governor Kelly also outlined her plans for rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, revitalizing our rural economy, eliminating the crisis in our foster care system, providing for more mental health resources, modernizing our criminal justice system and making sure our tax burden in spread across ALL sectors of the Kansas economy. She also stressed the need to work in a bipartisan manner in order to accomplish these goals and to make life better for all Kansans.

That was the inspiring part of the evening and the goals she outlined are the same goals I will work my hardest to see come to reality over the next two years. Unfortunately, Governor Kelly had barely gotten off the podium before the ultra-conservative leadership in the House and Senate, holdovers from the Brownback administration, were already vowing to fight the Governor’s plans and vision for a new and dynamic Kansas. There are enough Democrats and moderate Republicans to see the Governor’s plan come to fruition, the question is whether the moderates have the courage to buck the conservative elements in their party and really work for the best interests of their constituents. If they are willing to do that we can accomplish great things.

On a personal note, I requested and was placed on two new committees this year. I will be serving on the Federal and State Affairs Committee, the Taxation Committee and I will be returning to serve on the Education Committee. I will be providing my constituents with regular updates as the session gets fully underway this week. I am looking forward to getting back to work. Hope does indeed spring eternal!