Question 1: What do you plan to do to meet the long-term unfunded obligations of the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System? (KPERS)
Republicans in the Legislature have made a great effort to make sure that the unfunded liability is brought down inside of KPERS. And right now, we’re on track to have that system paid for and fully funded by 2033.
The issue, though, is that at some point in the 2020s we’re going to start reaching billion-dollar payments a year. The Legislature will not be able to afford that. Over the last two years under Governor Laura Kelly she has, in her budget proposals, attempted to re-amortize KPERS – adding billions more to the unfunded liabilities. So in 2019 when she made this proposal it would have added 7.7 billion dollars to the unfunded liability and then also putting $120 to 140 million into the state general fund so that she could spend that money somewhere else.
The Legislature voted on it and I voted “no” because 7.7 billion dollars is a lot of money to add to that unfunded liability. We rejected her plan in 2019, we did the same thing this year and also rejected her plan in 2020. About $4.4 billion would have added to the unfunded liability.
I don’t think it should be the politicians who make these kinds of determinations. KPERS has a board that has the authority to re-amortize KPERS, when it is a good decision to make for that fund. We don’t need politicians to force re-amortization when we have this board who has the authority to make this fund and they’re not doing it for political reasons. They’re doing it for the health of the fund.
I think what we need to do is to allow the KPERS board to make these determinations and keep the politicians and politics out of KPERS. I look forward to continuing to fund the KPERS program and making it so that we can all move forward together and have a very healthy program, instead of being the 49th worst funded program in America. We are moving and making leaps and bounds and now we’re within the 30s, so I look forward to continuing to fund KPERS.
Question 2: Do you feel the State of Kansas has done an adequate job of fighting COVID? What would you do differently or in addition to improve the response?
The Kansas Emergency Management Act was passed in the 1970s, 1974 to be more specific, and under that act, governors have always had the ability to take executive actions when it comes to wildfires, flooding, natural disasters and tornadoes, for instance. Even in 2019 we gave Governor Kelly eight months’ worth of executive powers under the Kansas Emergency Management Act when we had some really bad flooding here in the state of Kansas. At the end of the day, the Kansas Emergency Management Act never really dug down into the issue of pandemics, so we didn’t really have any statutes that touched on this.
When Laura Kelly started using her executive authority, it was completely foreign on how she was using her powers to a lot of legislators and everybody in the state. This is something that we have to address in next session.
The Supreme Court of Kansas said that the legislature in the 1970s gave the executive branch too much power and that the legislature actually needs to bring some of the power back to the legislative branch. I think that we’re going to have to do a global review of our statutes and really look to see what the state’s response is in the future going to be to pandemics.
We should not be telling which business owners are essential. We should be allowing the people to continue their work, if they want and have the ability to continue. I do not think the government should be telling businesses whether or not they are essential or not. Business owners, I think, have the ability to determine how they can keep their customers safe.
I conceal-carry firearms and I can tell you that if a business owner has the ability to tell me I can’t constitutionally use my constitutional right in their business or on their property in their establishment, then I think at the end of the day they have the ability to tell somebody whether they can or can’t wear a mask. It is up to that person to determine whether or not they want to give that business their business or go somewhere else. I think what we need to do is allow people to make their decisions, have individual responsibility, and get government out of the way so people can get back to work safely.
Question 3: In light of the national demonstrations regarding police violence do you feel there is any need for reform for Kansas Law Enforcement Agencies? What kind of reform?
The fourth amendment guarantees people the right to be secure in their persons and their homes and I will absolutely, unequivocally protect people’s constitutional rights.
In the state of Kansas, we’ve been making strides on police reforms and some of those are actually civil asset forfeiture. We’ve basically taken out the profit from policing and making it to where now there’s a database, and if you’re innocent of the crime you’re arrested for, you can get your property back, you can get your money back. I think that’s going to lead to where a lot of people are getting everything that was taken from them and the law enforcement agencies are not purchasing new vehicles and so on and so forth with those funds.
We’ve also added body cameras to a lot of departments here in Kansas so that we can increase transparency to the voters.
These are all things I have voted for and supported. I will continue to work with both sides on these issues to make sure that we are all reaching common ground and doing what’s right for all Kansans.
I am pro-law enforcement. I will do everything I can to make sure that our men and women in uniform are protected, supported, and I will be damn sure to make sure they are funded. I will not be defunding our police. That is a promise I can make to you today and I look forward to working with all these people to find solutions to move Kansas forward.
Question 4: Why are you the best candidate for the job and what advantages or benefits do you offer constituents over your opponent?
It has been an honor to serve residents of District 81 in the Kansas House of Representatives. I hope they give me their votes this year to allow me to go back and be effective representation for them.
What I mean is, not only am I just a member in the House of Representatives, but I also serve in leadership, which I believe amplifies our district’s voices and allows me to push our issues further than, say, just a normal representative. That amplifies our voice in the district.
I have passed over five bills during my time in the Legislature. Two of those bills are from Derby residents. The ideas came from them and I authored it, got it passed. Earlier this year, I helped secure insurance coverage for Julie Dombo. On January 1, 2021, her needs will be met by the insurance companies, and I worked with her and her husband. I’m so glad that we were able to achieve that.
I have a track record of getting things done and being a leader within the Legislative body. Not only can I get things passed under Republican governors, but I’ve also managed to even get a bill passed under a Democratic governor. In 2019, I’m the vice-chair of elections, and championed an elections bill that Governor Kelly signed. I’m not just a one-trick pony, I have the ability to work across party lines and get things done. Being in the majority allows a member to be either a chairman or vice-chairman on a committee and really have an impact on what bills are heard in that committee and what bills make it to the house floor.
My opponent would be a ranking member. They don’t have the ability to really have an impact as much as they could. Unfortunately, within that process they can’t pick what comes up in committees and how effectively we actually get bills through the process. So that is why I ask for your vote, because I believe that I’m effective and I can represent you very well.