Voters in Leavenworth County had a chance Wednesday evening to hear from candidates for the state Senate and Kansas House of Representatives.
Candidates for the Senate’s 3rd District, incumbent Democrat Tom Holland and Republican Anthony Brown, and candidates for the House’s 40th District, Republican John Bradford and Democrat Linda Johnson, participated in the forum, which was held at Lansing City Hall.
This was the third in a series of forums sponsored by the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters of Leavenworth County.
The 3rd Senate District includes western Leavenworth County. The 40th House District includes the city of Lansing and a portion of Leavenworth.
One of the questions asked during Wednesday’s forum concerned state income tax cuts that were approved this year.
Brown said the state is going in the right direction under the governor’s tax cut plan.
Holland said the tax cuts won’t generate enough growth to pay for themselves and will lead to massive deficits. He argued local governments will increase property taxes to offset cuts that will be made at the state level.
Johnson said there’s no evidence the tax cuts will stimulate the economy. She said small businesses won’t hire more people because of the tax cuts. She said the businesses will hire people when there’s an increased demand for services.
Bradford said Kansas is losing jobs to surrounding states.
“It’s all because of tax policy,” he said.
Bradford said he supports what is called a fair tax, which would eliminate income and corporate taxes.
Another question asked candidates about funding for education.
Holland said as the state has come out of the recession, there was the opportunity to redirect more money into education. But he said the state has instead passed massive tax cuts.
He said people are now seeing the negative academic effects of cuts that have been made in recent years to state funding for education.
Brown argued education needs to switch to a model that is centered on students instead of teachers.
He said the answer is more than money.
“It’s how you use that money,” he said.
Bradford said the focus in education needs to be on students and performance outcomes. He said more money has not resulted in better student performance.
He also voiced support for parental choice, arguing the state’s base aid per pupil funding should follow individual students.
Johnson said she doesn’t support taking money from public education to fund private alternatives.
She said education, job growth and the economy are linked.
Another question concerned the state’s abortion laws.
Bradford initially said he was opposed to abortion in all situations. But he suggested exceptions could be made in cases involving what are known as tubular pregnancies.
Johnson said she personally doesn’t believe in abortion “for me.” But as a public official, her job would be to make sure an abortion is safe and legal for a woman who is the victim of incest, rape or failed contraception and feels she has no other alternative.
Brown said he is 100 percent pro life. He said he believes the Kansas Legislature is doing a good job when it comes to abortion laws. He said it doesn’t seem like there will be much of a change until the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision is overturned.
Holland answered the question with one sentence.
“I would not vote to change the abortion laws in this state,” he said.
Candidates also were asked about the federal health care reform law.
Johnson said she doesn’t support repealing the Affordable Care Act.
She said some parts of the legislation are great.
“I think we’ve got to start some place,” she said.
She said there are going to be some glitches in the plan.
Bradford said he supports repealing the federal law. He said people are now learning what’s in the federal law.
“What we’re finding is we don’t like it,” he said.
Holland said there are some things about the federal law that are attractive.
But he said the federal legislation is complex and he hasn’t fully studied it.
Brown said he supports the repeal of the law. He said there are some good things in it. But he argued the law shouldn’t be achieved by trampling on individual rights and religious freedoms.
The candidates were asked about alternative energy programs in Kansas.
When talking about alternative energy, Holland said he thinks of things such as wind. He said he’s been supportive of wind energy.
He said all forms of energy investment need to be supported in the state.
Brown objected to tax credits for alternative forms of energy. He said if an alternative energy form is a viable business, it should compete at the same level as other forms of energy.
Bradford said he’s against wind energy. He said it won’t pay for itself without federal and state subsidies.
“I see no future continuing with wind energy,” he said.
Johnson said even with energy sources such as oil, gas and coal, the country still is going to need another source of energy.
“We’ve got to be developing wind now,” she said.
She said there’s a huge potential for jobs with the development of wind energy.