Clay Center, KS- With the general election taking place on November 8th, we took this time to reach out to candidates to see what they had to say on some important topics to Kansans. Here are the responses we received back for those running for Kansas State Treasurer.
Lynn Rogers, Democratic Party, is running for re-election for Kansas State Treasurer.
– What are the three most important issues facing Kansas and how would you prioritize them?
The three most important issues facing Kansans in the purview of the Treasurer are Housing, Education, and Retirement. On the subject of housing, I am advocating for the legislature to revisit the Kansas Home Loan Deposit Program that was intended to be a resource for Kansans to access safe, affordable housing but has gone unused. This program is administered by the Treasurer’s Office, and requires modification to be useful.
On education, I promote Learning Quest 529 Educational Savings Accounts as part of the duties of the Office, and help provide families and individuals with the resources to save for educational expenses. I have also worked with the Kansas House Democrats to introduce a Post Secondary Education Tax Package in the next session that makes tuition reimbursement benefits accessible for mom and pop shops, helping invest in education and provide competitive benefits packages for businesses.
Finally when it comes to retirement, less than half of Kansans have retirement savings, and of those that do most have less than $20,000 in savings. This just isn’t enough for a comfortable retirement. I am working with the legislature to create a Work and Save program, which is a portable retirement plan that can follow you from employer to employer, instead of having to wait for qualifying periods and starting over every time you find a new job. Additionally, for all of our public employees I help manage KPERS alongside 8 other Trustees to ensure the State meets our obligations to public service employees.
– What are your goals for the office?
My goals for the office focus on two things: improving the way we do the job and how we can better serve Kansans. I would like to achieve reform on the Kansas Housing Loan Deposit Program, which has $60 million in unused funds allocated to it. Reforming this program would allow more Kansans to access safe, affordable housing. I also aim to help the House Democrats pass the Post-Secondary Education Tax Package that is being introduced in order to invest in the Kansas Workforce. Additionally, I am pushing for a Cost of Living Adjustment to be made to KPERS so our retirees can afford to live off the income they receive.
For a long term goal, I plan to work with federal officials to advocate for a raise to the age limit for developing a disability and being able to access ABLE savings accounts.
– What do you plan to accomplish in your first 30 days? In your first 90 days?
In my first 30 days I plan to accomplish the Cost of Living Adjustment for KPERS. Beyond that, the best accomplishment I could complete is to continue doing the job to the best of my ability and advocate for Kansans day in and day out. In my first 90 days I plan to launch a personal finance section to our website to increase financial literacy in the state in addition to advocating for policies, and hopefully seeing the legislature pass them, that will benefit Kansans.
– What efforts would you support to promote fair election laws that provide for easy access for Kansas voters?
We must recognize that an enormous amount of work in our elections is done by local election officials. They ensure the security and smooth operations of our elections for everything from local elections and ballot questions up to statewide races and national campaigns. I believe it is time to take a hard look at our state budget and work with local officials to make sure they have the funding they need so that we have the staff to run elections and county budgets are not being burdened with unfunded mandates.
– What is your position on expanding Medicaid? Why? Would you be supportive of putting Medicaid Expansion on the ballot?
It is past time for us to expand Medicaid in Kansas. The delay has cost lives, put families into cycles of debt, forced tragic decisions to forgo care, and resulted in the loss of hospitals and providers in rural and underserved areas. This isn’t Kansas – we care for our communities and we especially are there for kids, seniors, and people who are working hard but still need a hand up when they need medical care. Expanding Medicaid will save Kansas millions in lost healthcare dollars, lost productivity for families that aren’t able to get basic care, and lost doctors, nurses and medical personnel who are going to states that have seen the wisdom in moving forward.
– What is your position on gun control and the issue of gun violence? What, if any, changes would you propose to current laws?
I still advocate that we must work with local law enforcement, mental health professionals, family advocates, and the courts to address the chronic gun violence in our communities. The very least we can do is stop individuals with orders of protection and that are proven threats from getting a gun. We also must continue to ensure that guns are safely and securely stored. We still lose too many kids to gun violence resulting from unsecured weapons.
– What role does the Legislature have in providing for public education and ensuring that Kansas students get a first-rate public education in a safe environment?
The Kansas Legislature must take the next step forward to address education funding beyond the court ordered levels that we finally won after the Disasters that were the Brownback budgets. That means working with local school boards and educators – rather than having the far right agendas attempt to hijack local control and subvert the school boards at the state and local levels. When I travel the state one thing I never hear is that people want Topeka being more involved in their local government.
We must work now to fund schools in a way that matches their community, the needs of their students, and ensures that we have the teachers and staff that we need. We also must end the failed model of pushing the burden of Special Education funding down onto the districts. This has hurt so many Kansas families, undermined our teachers and schools, and spiked local taxes.
– Do you support the formation of a non-partisan committee to address redistricting in Kansas?
Simple answer – yes. I want to see the proposals and that we can learn lessons from other states on what has worked and what hasn’t. The last round of redistricting was not even a thinly veiled effort at partisan gerrymandering. It was designed to ensure the people who were drawing the lines were protected from being accountable to the voters. That defeats the purpose of having elections.
– How do you believe transparency in the legislative process can be improved? Should all proposed legislation have listed sponsors and open hearings with public advance notice to allow for voters input?
Yes. Our greater concern is the GOP Leadership in the Legislature relying on “gut and go” bills during midnight voting sessions that result from ignoring the core mission of the legislature, and instead focus on culture war issues and things that don’t help Kansas families.
– What is your position on how Kansas Taxes should be structured?
Simplicity and transparency should be the rule. Whenever possible we should be avoiding making it harder for people to understand why they are being taxed, where the tax money is going, and which agency or government body is issuing the tax.
– What are your views on a woman’s right to control decisions regarding their own reproductive healthcare?
Kansas’ Constitution guarantees a right to bodily autonomy – end point. We affirmed this on August 2nd. We have held this as a fundamental tenet of what it means to be a Kansan. Kansans have the right to health care decisions made in consultation with their medical provider. The state has no business being in that conversation or anyone’s bedroom.
– What are your views on recreational and/or medical cannabis?
We need an immediate effort to address the pitfalls of our industrial hemp program, move to legalization with an emphasis on medical cannabis to help our veteran and chronic condition residents and then bring legalization that recognizes that we must have equity in the process and redress injustices resulting from years of failed policy.
– Why should voters cast their ballot for you?
There is a question on your ballot for every race, and it’s not about party. It’s about competency. My opponent has lied on the campaign trail and proven himself to be incapable of running a competent campaign. If you can’t even run the race well, how can we expect you to run the office well? You should vote for me because I am a proven, capable State Treasurer who has worked to improve your life over the last two years.