Top executives from the Kansas Republican and Democratic parties expressed their views Friday, Sept. 27, at the Congressional Forum held in the Reardon Convention Center.
Speaking were Clay Barker, the executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, and Dakota Loomis, the communications director for the Kansas Democratic Party.
Barker is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., and served for 10 years as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. He graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law and practiced law with the firm of Spencer, Fane, Britt and Brown, Kansas City, Mo.
Loomis is a graduate of Carleton College, Northfield, Minn., and the New York University School of Law. He worked on the staffs of former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and former Attorney General Paul Morrison.
Loomis said the Democratic Party wants to grow the voter base and increase jobs with adequate investment in educational funding. Having good jobs will assure there is a strong middle class, Loomis said; he said it is important to support the research and development that is going on at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Loomis said the Democratic Party favors lower property taxes. He said the income tax cuts that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback favors would benefit only a few upper-income people.
Barker outlined the goals of Gov. Brownback. Chief among them is fiscal responsibility. When the governor took over, the state treasury was drained. The governor changed that by cutting government spending that resulted in a $500 million surplus, Barker said.
Barker said that the income tax reduction that Gov. Brownback favors would put more money in the pockets of Kansans—that people know much better how to spend their money than government. Barker said the governor has taken steps to restore financial stability to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.
Mayor Mark Holland, who attended the forum, asked why the state won’t approve expanded Medicaid that would provide coverage for 8,000 of the poorest of the poor Wyandotte County residents. Barker said although this expanded Medicaid program would provide federal money for three years, it would eventually cost the state 10 percent of its budget.
Loomis said that the Democratic Party is recruiting candidates for the 2014 election and suggested that former Mayor Joe Reardon would be ideal.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.