The state’s financial picture is in a serious condition now, and the election this year will be vital to Kansas’ future.
That’s the message Sen. Dan Goddard, a Parsons Republican, presented to a small group of supporters at a fundraising event Tuesday evening at Wall Family Center, 2605 Main St.
Goddard is facing opposition to his reelection from Virgil Peck, who will face Goddard in the Aug. 4 Republican primary. Peck is a former Kansas House representative who lost to Goddard in the 2016 primary. Goddard was elected to his first term that year. There is no Democrat candidate for Goddard’s District 15 seat this year, so whoever wins the primary will be the presumptive winner of the general election.
Goddard said the election this year is vital. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdowns and restrictions on businesses, the state’s revenues are lower than normal.
Despite the financial picture, Goddard has pledged to vote against an income or sales tax increase.
Goddard serves on the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee, so he could have some impact on spending and taxes if reelected.
“Every dollar taken away from the citizens of the state is a dollar not turned over in the local economy,” Goddard said.
Rather than raise taxes, Goddard thinks the state should do what it can to rein in spending.
“I think everyone is going to have to tighten their belt. Every agency will have to tighten their belt,” Goddard said.
Kansas will get through the pandemic, but Goddard worries about the 2022 budget.
Goddard said Kansas should save spending from the general fund when possible. He hopes the Legislature will move to reduce spending, and that Gov. Laura Kelly will do so as well, preferably before January. The state’s fiscal year runs from July through June.
“To solve the problem in six months is not going to work,” Goddard said.
The pandemic and loss of revenue have created an opportunity to get a handle on spending so that the state isn’t in such bad shape if another crisis arises, Goddard said.
Goddard said he opposes across-the-board agency spending cuts. He would like the state to look at every agency to see where budgets can be slashed, but he would not favor cuts to services that provide for the state’s safety and security.
To get through the pandemic, Kansas will need to treat its finances like a family — tighten up spending, plan a budget and stick to it, Goddard said. He plans to do that as well and would forgo the $88 a day paid to legislators during the next session.
“I will adjust my budget. I will make a plan and stick to it,” Goddard said.
Goddard also said he would do all he can to support a viable agricultural economy because ranchers and farmers spend money throughout the state.
Goddard said he would fight for the right to life for the unborn.
“I believe life starts at conception, and I will not compromise on that,” Goddard said.
Goddard also pledged his support to the education system, saying that schools need to be conducive to a good learning environment with educated teachers dedicated to the field and compensated fairly. He said schools need to prepare students to enter the workforce upon graduation or attend technical school or college.
Among the endorsements he touted, Goddard included the Wichita Chamber of Commerce, explaining that the chamber knows he supports the aviation industry that is vital to Wichita’s economy because his district includes aviation companies such as Ducommun Inc. in Parsons.
“I really, really think that is another strong part of our economy,” Goddard said.
Goddard said he was a co-sponsor for a Medicaid expansion bill, but it didn’t make it out of committee. He continues to support expansion, saying it would create an estimated 13,000 jobs in the state. Medicaid expansion, however, would cost Kansas a lot of money, so doing so anytime soon might be difficult because of the loss of revenue because of the pandemic.
“We’re going to need to take a look at the impact on the budget, and it’s going to be a very, very, very difficult decision,” Goddard said.
Goddard also pledged to work with all of the Republican Party, not just the far right wing, and to work across the aisle when possible. He said Peck is a toxic, grandstanding politician who likes to beat his chest. Peck would drive a wedge in the Republican Party and not work with Democrats, Goddard said.
Greg Chalker of Parsons asked Goddard about broadband internet expansion in the state. Chalker said he pays $180 a month for three different internet providers to ensure he has a good connection but none are great. The situation is worse in western Kansas and other more rural areas of the state. Chalker said more people than ever are working and studying at home, so broadband service is important.
Goddard said Kansas has set aside $50 million for broadband improvements from the COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government. That will be important because he anticipates people moving from major metropolitan areas to rural towns.
Labette County Commissioner Doug Allen asked Goddard if he had any insight on how schools will operate in the fall as the pandemic continues with no vaccine available. Goddard said he anticipates each district will have its own approach. He said there could be a combination of online and in-person learning, but Goddard doesn’t think students get the full benefit of education online. When districts do make decisions, Goddard said the public should support them.
“They are busting their behinds to do the best they can,” he said.
Allen said if schools are running at less than full capacity, they should not be fully funded.
“I don’t see why everybody can’t share in the pain,” Allen said.