Candidates face off in forum
Two Kansas gubernatorial candidates list public education and fixing an $800 million budget deficit as their top priorities should they win the general election Nov. 5.
Last week, Republican Tim Shallenburger, Baxter Springs, and Democrat Kathleen Sebelius, Topeka, participated in a forum at Mill Valley High School.
High school students asked the two candidates prepared questions during the forum.
Sebelius said bettering public education went hand in hand with fixing a struggling Kansas economy.
"It's the way our state is best positioned for an economic recovery," Sebelius said. "You can't have good jobs and good business without good schools."
"My commitment is to make public education the No. 1 priority with our tax dollars," she added.
Sebelius said her opponent Shallenburger did not feel the same way about education.
Not true, the Republican candidate said.
"I never said I believe schools should be cut," Shallenburger said. "I said, yes, I believe schools can survive (with cuts)."
Shallenburger reinforced his theory on education by pointing to funding increases he voted for while a member of the Kansas Legislature. He also promised a new funding formula should he take the governor's seat.
"Most of the (education) money, if not all of it needs to find the person who it was designed for," he said.
The two candidates were also asked how they would deal with the budget, which is now approximately $800 million in the red.
Sebelius said she would conduct a performance audit of Kansas agencies; Shallenburger said he would be against tax increases.
"It's been 20 years since there was a performance review," Sebelius said." I'm thinking it's time to do it again."
While she was insurance commissioner, Sebelius said her office performed a review and was able to streamline 19 percent in costs.
"I think those kind of savings are within the state government," she said.
Shallenburger said his plan to balance the budget would begin Nov. 6, the day after the election.
"There isn't one dime that hasn't come from taxpayers," he said. "What we're forced to do is add to the budget without adding a burden to the people."
"We've got to make Kansas work better without tax increases," he added.